Almost three quarters of Windows 10 users are letting Microsoft harvest the maximum amount of data possible about how they use their PC.
Just over 70 percent of Windows 10 users choose to send full diagnostics data back to Microsoft, according to Marisa Rogers, Microsoft’s privacy officer for the Windows devices group.
Rogers takes the stat as confirmation that users want to ‘help us fix things and improve Microsoft products’. She cites feedback from users that “the privacy settings added to clean installs are a boon for the privacy minded”, and praise that Microsoft’s approach is “very well done”.
However, given that Windows 10 Home and Pro editions default to sending full diagnostic data back to Microsoft when installed for the first time, it’s not a given that users are making a conscious choice to share as much usage data as possible. The high proportion “choosing” the full setting could equally result from most users clicking past the privacy settings page without reading it or changing the defaults.
Microsoft collects a raft of data about how Windows 10 is used when the full diagnostic data option is chosen, including: detailed hardware specs, information on which apps you use and for how long, web searches when using Edge or IE and content searches within apps, data on which parts of the Windows UI you click on or hover over, and information related to speech recognition.
Microsoft has made a series of changes to how Windows 10 gathers user data since the OS’ launch, following criticisms and threats of fines by European privacy regulators.
In April, to coincide with the release of the Creators Update to Windows 10, Microsoft reduced data collection by the OS, introduced a new privacy menu that made it easier to disable some telemetry and revealed more detail about the information it collects.
The French privacy regulator CNIL says Microsoft has almost halved the volume of data that Windows 10 collects when the user picks the ‘Basic’ telemetry setting.
However, different editions of Windows 10 still offer varying levels of control over privacy. While Home and Pro users can only drop the level of data collection to “Basic” level, users of Enterprise, Education, and IoT Core editions are able to reduce collection further, to what Microsoft calls the “Security” level.
Rogers says that Windows 10 will be fully compliant with the strict data rules under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into effect in 2018.
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