Microsoft will let business users opt out of Windows 10 tracking

Attempts to explain why its tracking isn't as bad as some fear

There has been at least a low hum of concern around new features in Windows 10 that send information back to Microsoft. The company has mostly kept quiet about those concerns, until now.

Windows 10, launched at the end of July, shares two different kinds of data with Microsoft: personalization data that helps tailor users' experiences with things like Cortana, and telemetry data that helps Microsoft see how the operating system is being used. When it comes to the personalization data, which includes information like users' locations and interests, it's possible to shut off features to minimize its collection.

But even at its most locked down, Windows 10 still phones home to Microsoft with telemetry data including an anonymous device ID, information about the type of device that's being used and data from application crashes. That sort of data has been key to solving problems with the operating system and other applications, according to an explanation published Monday from Microsoft Corporate Vice President Terry Myerson.

However, businesses that want to make sure they're as locked down as possible may not be keen on providing any information to Microsoft, especially because previous versions of the operating system didn't require any telemetry data collection. For those users, the company will allow devices running Windows 10 Enterprise to opt out of all telemetry collection, with an update later this year. 

It's an option that Myerson strongly recommends against, but that may be the price the company has to pay for driving adoption of its new operating system among businesses. Even though Windows 10 Enterprise was released in August, it's still awaiting key features Microsoft has promised, like Windows Update for Business. The addition of opt-out functionality for telemetry is another step along that road. 

In addition to the forthcoming setting, Microsoft also released guides for IT professionals and end users to help them better understand how to control the different privacy settings that are available in the operating system, whether on an organizational or individual level. 

Finally, Myerson pointed out that Windows 10 doesn't collect information from users' files or emails to serve them ads -- a thinly veiled barb at Google's data collection from its users. 

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Blair Hanley Frank

IDG News Service
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