Windows 10 Privacy Issues – Fact or Fiction?

This guest post is contributed by my Aussie mate, Jim Hillier. Jim is the resident freeware aficionado at Dave’s Computer Tips. A computer veteran with 30+ years experience who first started writing about computers and tech back in the days when freeware was actually free. His first computer was a TRS-80 in the 1980s, he progressed through the Commodore series of computers before moving to PCs in the 1990s. Now retired (aka an old geezer), Jim retains his passion for all things tech and still enjoys building and repairing computers for a select clientele… as well as writing for DCT, of course.


The release of Windows 10 together with news of its heightened telemetry certainly brought out the conspiracy theorists and paranoid. Publish an article about Windows 10 and, regardless of the actual subject matter, you’re pretty much guaranteed to receive a slew of comments slamming Microsoft and its new operating system for introducing these so-called privacy issues, so much so that it has gotten to the point of becoming tiresome.

The data collection in Windows 10 may be at a new level for a desktop operating system but it is pretty standard fare for mobile devices. Both Google (Android) and Apple (iOS) have been collecting this type of data for years with nary a whimper from the using public.

One has to bear in mind that Windows 10 is, after all, a hybrid operating system, designed to cater for both desktop and mobile users. Mobile by its very nature requires a lot more information than a stationary desktop in order to deliver full functionality. If you ask Cortana to find the nearest pizza shop, for example, how can the digital assistant provide that information if it has no idea where you are located?

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With the increasing trend toward mobile device usage, Microsoft is merely following the age-old law of supply and demand. With Windows 10, Microsoft has produced an operating system which is suitable for both desktop and mobile users – depending on how it is configured.

That’s the whole point with Windows 10, a point which, apparently, many people have failed to grasp – the choice lies squarely in the hands of the end user. Windows 10 can quite easily be set up purely as a desktop operating system, in which case the level of data collection is substantially diminished. Sure, it may take a little time and effort to go through all the settings, but it is definitely not difficult.

Don’t want to use Cortana? Simple… just turn it off. And so on, and so on. It’s easy to disable unwanted apps/features, nobody is being forced to utilize them or the services they provide. They are simply available for those who do want to use them.

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If you go through Windows 10’s Privacy settings and disable everything you don’t want or need, including setting Feedback to minimum, the level of telemetry is no more than one would expect for a desktop PC, no more than [say] in Windows 7 or 8.1.

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I’m not suggesting for one minute that Microsoft hasn’t made bad decisions regarding Windows 10, just that, in my opinion, the telemetry isn’t numbered among them – more a matter of simply keeping up with the times. In fact, I’m far more concerned over the enforced updates in Windows 10 where there simply is no choice. Not to mention the constant upgrade nags and unsolicited upgrades – but that, as they say, is another story for another time.

Bottom Line:

To suggest that Windows 10 is ‘spying’ on consumers is a pretty far stretch. I, for one, don’t really care if Microsoft knows that some anonymous old geezer in Queensland, Australia regularly visits Bill Mullins Tech Thoughts blog.

Do I like Windows 10? Sure I do. Would I recommend upgrading to Windows 10 for free? In a heartbeat.

*BTW: Microsoft recently announced that the Windows 10 free upgrade offer will definitely end on 29th July as originally stated.

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15 Comments

Filed under Microsoft, Myths, Operating Systems, Software, Technicians Advise, Windows 10, Windows Tips and Tools

15 responses to “Windows 10 Privacy Issues – Fact or Fiction?

    • Thank you focu255.

      It’s been a long time and I’m sure happy to see your name here. Good to hear from you.

      I trust all is well down your way.

      Best,

      Bill

  1. Great article Jim! Totally agree with your point of view.

    Thanks for jumping into the deep end with me. 🙂

  2. Greg Greco

    Bill:
    Good to see your emails again. I really get a lot out of them. Hope all is going well with you.
    Regards, Greg

  3. robert h hogrefe

    Totally agree also, Nice to learn about Daves Computer Tips, and very nice to hear from you again Bill, hope all is well.
    FYI yesterday I solved numerous maddening glitches, hang ups and problems over many weeks with my laptop running Win 7 by finally reaching a stable moment where I could upgrade to Win 10. Presto, functioning laptop again. I really believe the Win 7 OS is not reliable anymore. Win 10 is really nicely laid out in my humble view.

    • Hi Robert,

      Thank you.

      Thanks for the FYI as well – a bit more knowledge added to the reservoir. Good to know it worked out for you. Must have been a real bag of frustration.

      My comment from the “sandbox” to my good friend delenn13, sums up my feelings on the matter. 🙂

      Best,

      Bill

  4. delenn13

    Nice view…”That’s the whole point with Windows 10, a point which, apparently, many people have failed to grasp – the choice lies squarely in the hands of the end user.”

    I just got back from the store. Too many flavours, textures, methods. I am tired of choosing. I want..”plug and pray” back. Just WORK…The way I want it..out of the box. And when it updates…don’t change MY settings or screw up my system.

    Guess I am in a bad mood…”Waves cane in the air and yells, “You, kids, get off my Lawn!!!!!

    • Hey D,

      As you well know, operating systems are complex creatures and can be furiously frustrating to those who make assumptions that the vendor has created an OS just for them. Often, to their surprise (definitely not referring to you 🙂 ), they find the OS is not person specific – but instead, a generic product. How could it be otherwise?

      Recognizing that a generic version will not suit every ones needs, Microsoft provides more settings to personalize the OS than a typical user should ever need. And, for those tweaks that fall outside the norm, there is a host of specialty tools (often free), which one can use to flip things around like crazy.

      The issue here is pretty straightforward – to get the best from a machine one has to invest time and energy – something called “learning.”

      Example:

      My Blackbery Playbook forced me to learn a new system. To get the best from this tablet I HAD TO LEARN the system.

      My Android tablet forced me to learn Android and relearn the system, to some extent, with each update. I could hardly condemn Google for this, since the trade-off is, I then have a more capable machine with no investment in new hardware. Sweet, I think.

      I won’t mention the learning curve from DOS 1 to Win 10. Oh!

      Win 10 provides the same opportunity as Android – an enhancement of the machine’s capabilities without a capital investment. Win 10 is given freely and with a hand holding system second-to-none – yet, the complaints are legend.

      In short, my view is this – the dumb leading the dumb (who assume they have a God given right to remain dumb), have been massively assisted by both the Tech Media (BOO to you!), and MSM, in presenting their waterlogged case before a mystified public. The average person doesn’t give a Tinker’s damn about all this nonsense.

      Talking about “You, kids, get off my Lawn”, this past weekend the little buggers from up the street “borrowed” 3 solar lights and a flowering plant from my front lawn. The stern chat I had with them provided a few laughs. 🙂 Man, you have to nail everything down these days. 🙂

      Best,

      Bill

      • delenn13

        Bill,
        I went off topic with my rant and I didn’t mean to hi jack the topic from Jim(Sorry, Jim.). So my reply will be short. Besides right now, I am really busy.

        Privacy issues? No more than Google/Android, Apple or any company out there trying to make a buck. But don’t wrap it with a big red bow and tell me its free with no strings attached…. so drink the kool aide with my cake. I am the one who gets the phone call ..”Why did my Win10 PC turn ON during the night when I turned it totally off when i went to bed? What is Microsoft doing to my computer?” I really enjoy saying this…It’s probably one of your settings. I am NOT using Win 10. Google is your friend.”

        Most people don’t want to go through a bunch of settings they don’t understand. Mobile or PC settings? Normal people just want a program/system that does what they want when they want. They don’t want to learn/work when they get home. as you said….”The average person doesn’t give a Tinker’s damn about all this nonsense.”

        I, personally, wanted to just wait until the dust settled before I got Win10. But the way they are going about trying to force/trick you into upgrading, the more it makes ME want to buck the system. So now, I am just not sure as to what I want to do.

        • Hey D,

          I didn’t see your comment as a rant. Quite the opposite. You raised an issue that needs to be discussed – no more, no less.

          We don’t have to agree on Win 10 – we’ve had one or two issues over the years in which we’ve taken different positions. A “never the twain shall meet” – sort of thing. Win 10 seems to be one of those.

          Despite my strong support of Win 10 (I’ve been running various flavours since October 2014), I’m not at all enthusiastic about Microsoft’s recent bullying tactics -and, I dig what you’re saying. Your point is well made.

          As for Microsoft “waking up” a machine (that happened to me on a machine with WIN 10 Pro installed), I agree, that’s a step too far. Best to turn off Wake-on-LAN, or it’s equivalent.

          Best,

          Bill

  5. I am glad to see you back, Bill 🙂

    • Hey Neeraj,

      What a pleasant surprise to hear from you! Fantastic!!

      I hope all goes well for you. But, why wouldn’t it – you’re one smart fellow. 🙂

      Best,

      Bill

  6. John Bent

    Hi Bill,

    So glad you’re back on form.

    I’ve still to install Win10 but will definitely do so (soon!). I enjoy (am interested in) learning new systems and I have the time to do it. It’s all about personal choice and inclination. I prefer Android and Windows to Apple but if Apple is ok for you, fine. I’ve never understood the fanboy attitude that what I have is the best and what you have is rubbish. That is not the same as giving an informed recommendation, which is what we all come to you for Bill.

    No operating system is perfect and some require more work than others to get them the way you want them. It’s like the difference between a compact camera and a DSLR. The latter takes longer to set up but gives a more personalised result.

    Keep well, Bill.

    Kind regards,
    John

    • Hi John,

      Love the analogy – “It’s like the difference between a compact camera and a DSLR. The latter takes longer to set up but gives a more personalised result.” The photographer in you speaks. 🙂

      Just picked up a Minolta Dimage Z3 (12x optical zoom, anti-shake, etc) for $5 at a garage sale. Now, it’s not quite in operating condition (yet) – but, for $5 I can have some fun dismantling it and playing around with the innards.

      So good to hear from you my friend.

      Best,

      Bill