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Microsoft responds to user concerns with new Windows 10 privacy settings layout

Heather Parry

By Heather Parry

06 March 2018

Yesterday, Microsoft released a new Windows 10 test build to its Windows Insiders.

The newest iteration of the operating system comes with a few user-focused options that privacy advocates should be happy to see, including ones that address concerns regarding the OS’s built-in keylogger.

From the Windows 10 launch in 2015, Microsoft has used a keylogger to collect data regarding speech, inking and typing on your device. In their FAQ on the subject, they describe and justify it this way:

When your Diagnostic and usage data setting (Settings > Privacy > Feedback & diagnostics) is set to Full, your inking and typing input data is sent to Microsoft, and we use this data in the aggregate to improve the inking and typing platform for all users… As part of inking and typing on your device, Windows creates a user dictionary that stores unique words like names you write, which helps you type and ink more accurately.

Whenever we collect data, even when it’s to make your device work better for you, we want to make sure you have all the information to make the right choices about how and when that data is used.

Some critics branded these as spyware controls and were dismayed to see them appear in the fully-released Windows 10. Since then, Microsoft have been playing catch-up to try and win back user confidence.

With this new version of the OS, Microsoft says they’re trying to let users “make focused choices about their privacy”.

Previously, the Windows 10 privacy setup process pre-selected the company’s preferred choices, with users able to just click “accept” through several screens. This included screens referring to inking and typing, with the pre-selected option being the one that said “yes” to sending this information back to Microsoft.

With the new process, the company’s preferred option is only highlighted with a dotted line around it, and the user is forced to make a choice between the two before they’re allowed to click “accept” and move on to the next screen.

Of course, this still prioritises the company’s preferred option, and that option will always be the one that sends user data back to them.

However, it is a step in the right direction, and is hopefully one that gives users pause for thought in considering how they let Microsoft use their data, and why they choose to do so.

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