Microsoft addresses your privacy in Windows 10

More details about what user data Microsoft collects and why.

In the wake of concerns about the amount of user data that Windows 10 collects and sends to Microsoft, the company has spoken out in defense of its methodology on its official Windows blog. Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the Windows and Devices Group, laid out the company's game plan, based on two principles: (1) "Windows 10 collects information so the product will work better for you," and (2) "You are in control with the ability to determine what information is collected." Myerson adds that all such data is encrypted when sent to Microsoft and is stored in secure facilities.

Myerson's blog post was likely prompted by recent discoveries that Windows 10 can send usage information to Microsoft, even when all such communication tools appeared to have been shut down by the user. As initially reported by Ars Technica, activities like clicking the Start menu button can trigger communication between your computer and Microsoft.

According to Myerson, one reason to leave certain things enabled is to help improve device drivers, which act as the communication layer between Windows and the physical components of your computer, tablet, or phone. He cites one example of a video card causing persistent system crashes, which Microsoft was able to fix within 48 hours, because the user data collection in Windows 10 was making the company aware of the problem.

Myerson does not address the utility of employing user feedback instead of background data collection, which had been in the system in place until now. He does emphasize that personally identifiable information is not collected. Microsoft acquires "anonymous device ID, device type, and application crash data." He adds that Microsoft does not scan your email or the contents of your file, "unlike some other platforms" (presumably a reference to Gmail scanning your email for keywords to refine its advertisements). However, the claim that the competition may be doing something worse has historically been a challenging method for making a case for your own product.

In a separate statement, Microsoft announced that it was working on a future update of the enterprise edition of Windows 10 to allow users to disable all unsolicited communication with Microsoft.

We've covered the long list of privacy settings that Windows 10 users have to pore over, and you'll probably want to take a look at your Windows 10 security settings as well.

More Resources

Windows 10 review

Should you get Windows 10?

Windows 10 tips and tricks

The Download.com Security and Antivirus Software Center

About Tom McNamara

Tom is the senior editor covering Windows at Download.com.