Microsoft has revealed that Windows 10 enterprise feature updates “later this year” will allow telemetry data collection to be disabled.
Microsoft has also released a detailed list to controlling how much data is sent from users’ machines, including how to switch off various telemetry data.
This include four levels of telemetry, including a “security” level that reports the least amount of data including basic security settings. No user content, such as user files or communications, is gathered at the Security telemetry level, and Microsoft takes steps to avoid gathering any information that directly identifies a company or user, such as name, email address, or account ID. Microsoft recommends against this setting if a company relies on Windows Update.
While Microsoft will allow enterprise users to disable telemetry, it “strongly recommends against this.” Microsoft states the telemetry information is used to analyze and fix software problems and helps Microsoft improve its software and provide updates.
News of the upcoming ability to disable telemetry was contained in a blog post, titled “Privacy and Windows 10”, written by executive vice president Terry Myerson, which attempts to justify the company's policy on data collection.
Any data sent to Microsoft “is encrypted in transit to our servers, and then stored in secure facilities”, the post states. It also adds that while device IDs, types and crash logs are collected from Windows 10 users, none of it can identify which person it came from.
Microsoft’s blog post also deals with personalisation data collected by Windows 10, such as knowing the words you're likely to use for predictive typing. The post suggests you should be happy with this, but if by any chance you're not, then updating your settings is a couple of clicks away. Myerson also notes that Cortana – which requires more personal data to function fully – requires you to opt in to its more aggressive data collection before use.
Finally, Microsoft couldn't resist having a little dig at some of its rivals. Myerson writes: “Unlike some other platforms, no matter what privacy options you choose, neither Windows 10 nor any other Microsoft software scans the content of your email or other communications, or your files, in order to deliver targeted advertising to you.”
The post doesn't address every privacy concern that has been raised, but Myerson adds that Windows Insiders can send specific privacy-related comments through the Feedback app. “As an example of direct response to feedback we've received, all Windows 10 customers will receive an upcoming update to family features, with default settings designed to be more appropriate for teenagers, compared to younger children,” he writes.