You don’t need to upgrade to Windows 10 to get some of its worst privacy features

Privacy, Security

Windows 10 is hungry — for your data.

For instance, it gives every device running the OS a unique advertising ID for tracking purposes. In addition, anything you say or type can be processed by Microsoft along with telemetry data — including software configuration, network usage and connection data. You can turn much of this off (but not all of the telemetry collection) and you should definitely take a tour of Windows 10’s privacy settings right now if you haven’t already.

“Even when you’ve disabled a number of the nosier features (like Windows 10’s new digital assistant, Cortana), the OS ceaselessly and annoyingly opens an array of encrypted channels back to the Redmond mother ship that aren’t entirely under the user’s control,” TechDirt‘s Karl Bode explains.

The upgrade to the “last” new edition of Windows ever is free in effort to reduce the fragmentation that now exists in the Windows landscape.

But just in case you haven’t or won’t upgrade, Microsoft doesn’t want you to feel ignored. A new set of updates for Windows 7 and 8 add Windows 10’s telemetry collection to its ancestors.

“If these updates are installed on the system, data is sent to Microsoft regularly about various activities on it,” Ghacks‘ Martin Brinkmann writes. His suggestion is that you not install them.

If you do install them, you can turn off much of the collection by opting out of the Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP). You can do that in Windows 8 by going to the Control Panel’s Action Center. On the left side menu, select “Change Action Center Settings”.

How big of a privacy concern is this?

It all comes down how much you trust Microsoft with having access in some way with almost everything you do with your devices. While Windows 10 has received lots of positive praise, the aggressiveness of the data collection continues to push more privacy-focused users to the far more customizable Linux OS.

For more everyday users, the growing connectedness of all devices forces us to do addition thinking about privacy when making purchases. “What kind of data is my car or refrigerator tracking?” just isn’t a question many of us had thought about before.

It makes sense that Microsoft needs to monitor its product for usability and stability, but when that monitoring goes beyond the product, it makes sense if your hackles begin to rise.

[Image by Lali Masriera | Flickr]


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