Windows 10 Creators Update Finally Gives Users More Control Over Privacy Settings
Microsoft launched Windows 10 in July 2015 and, while the new operating system showed much promise, it also raised a lot of concerns over privacy and security from both private users and security experts.
Since Microsoft is aiming to have a billion devices running Windows 10 by the end of 2018, it is only natural for the company to address concerns and follow through with remedies to appease its users.
That is why, on top of the additional features packaged in the Creators Update, Microsoft is finally handing back control of privacy and updates settings to users.
Microsoft's Initial Response
Two months after Windows 10 was launched, on Sept. 28, 2015, Microsoft actually responded to user complaints but maintained that all the data the OS collects (which had no actual opt-out) are for better user experience.
Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the Windows and Devices Group, defended the data collection and said that everything is geared for the software's safety and reliability — such as tracking which programs crash and how to resolve them — and to personalize updates for users.
"With Windows 10, information we collect is encrypted in transit to our servers, and then stored in secure facilities," Myerson said.
Of course, not everyone bought that.
Windows 10 Criticism
A year after it was launched, Windows 10 still remained the subject of criticism, and one of the more passionate critiques was written by Amul Kalia of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
"Windows 10 sends an unprecedented amount of usage data back to Microsoft [...] Here's a non-exhaustive list of data sent back: location data, text input, voice input, touch input, webpages you visit, and telemetry data regarding your general usage of your computer, including which programs you run and for how long," he writes.
Kalia also explained that disabling the features of early Windows 10 does not guarantee that the OS would stop communicating with the servers and is still, therefore, a big privacy issue. He considers the data collection and the fact that users cannot really completely opt-out of the process as a huge disregard for user privacy.
Kalia also noted that many Windows 10 users shared the same experience and irritation toward the company and advised Microsoft to fix what was done.
"Microsoft should come clean with its user community. The company needs to acknowledge its missteps and offer real, meaningful opt-outs to the users who want them [...] and not try to bypass user choice and privacy expectations," he suggested.
Creators Update Resolution
Microsoft finally gave in to the demands of angry Windows 10 users and limited the data the company collects as well as surrendered much of the control over privacy and updates settings.
In a Jan. 10 announcement, Myerson introduced the Privacy Dashboard and explained the new Privacy Settings that is supposed to relinquish control of data collection over to users.
"Prior to the Creators Update, Windows 10 made most of the decisions for you regarding when updates would be installed and didn't provide ways to tailor the timing to your specific needs. What we heard back most explicitly was that you want more control over when Windows 10 installs updates," Windows Servicing and Delivery Director of Program Management John Cable said.
Cable also shared the screenshot below showing some of the new Privacy Settings available for Windows 10 users after the Creators Update.
However, he still recommends that users choose the default Windows settings to ensure that the OS is really up to date and running in top condition.