Here are Microsoft's newest efforts to clean up Windows 10 privacy

  • Liam Tung (CSO Online)
  • 14 September, 2017 20:54

Microsoft’s forthcoming Windows Fall Creators Update will introduce new app permission controls, privacy statement shortcuts, an enterprise setting to limit diagnostic data collection for Windows Analytics.    

The latest Windows 10 privacy enhancements follow Microsoft’s efforts to appease European data protection authorities over privacy concerns, in particular France’s CNIL, which threatened to fine Microsoft in July 2016 unless it dialed back Windows 10’s “excessive” data collection and improved how it gained user consent. 

CNIL withdrew its complaint in June after confirming Microsoft had cut the amount of diagnostic data it collected from users and offered users a clear choice as to whether they permitted Microsoft to enabled the Advertising ID and track them on the web in order to personalize ads.   

Ahead of this, Microsoft rolled out a trio of privacy changes in the Creators Update in April, which introduced clearer explanations of privacy settings, an updated online privacy statement, and more precise details about what data it collects when users choose between “Basic” versus “Full” diagnostic data collection during the Windows setup process. 

The Fall Creators Update, due out in October, bring two changes during the setup process that are relatively minor but aim to make it simpler to view privacy information when the machine is effectively locked down. 

First, you’ll now be able to view the full privacy statement during setup. The second is a new “Learn More” page on the privacy settings screen that lets you check sections of the privacy statement related to specific settings, such as location, speech recognition, diagnostics, tailored experiences and ads. This is instead of wading through the whole document to understand the privacy implications of each feature. 

Windows 10 currently allows you to approve and deny permissions to access location, but not others on a per-feature basis, such as access the web cam or microphone. As of the Fall Creators Update, so long as the app is installed from the Microsoft Store, users will be able to choose which apps can access each feature, including the mic, camera, contacts, pictures, and so on. Users will now be prompted for access to features before the app is allowed to use them.


Finally, Microsoft is offering better controls for what diagnostics data it collects from enterprise customers to enable Windows Analytics, which allows enterprise customers to use Microsoft’s telemetry data to better manage and support Windows 10 devices.

Microsoft is deploying a new stetting that limits data collection to the bare minimum required for Windows Analytics. 

Microsoft is currently focusing on bug fixes for the preview builds it shares under the Windows Insiders program, but it will include some of these changes Insiders in the coming weeks.