Is “Windows 10 Privacy” an Oxymoron?

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Transcript

Is Windows 10 Privacy an oxymoron?

Hi Everyone! Leo Notenboom here for askleo.com. Before I get into answering that question a little bit more specifically, if there’s only one thing that you’re going to take away from watching this video today or reading the transcript, it’s this, please let it be this: Never, ever choose express or default settings when you install software particularly when it comes to Windows 10, and I’ll get into that in a minute, but to be honest it’s true for all software.

The problem is that many software vendors set up default choices for you, but they’re not really the best choices for YOU in all cases. Very often they’re the best choices for the software vendor. In the worst case, not related to Windows 10, you’ll actually get software that you didn’t expect if you just choose the default options.

Don’t do that. That’s been a problem for some time, but it when comes to Windows 10, when you’re setting up Windows 10, it’s important not to choose the express settings, because that will make a number of choices for you by default that in reality benefit Microsoft more than they benefit you, we think, and therein lies the problem.

Over the last few weeks since Windows 10’s release, there’s been a lot of negative press surrounding Microsoft’s privacy policy and the kinds of information that they may, or may not be collecting or what they may, or may not be doing with that information that they do collect.
A lot of it is really Microsoft’s own fault in two regards. One, they’re being very unclear, they’re being very vague about what they do with the information that they collect and why they want to collect it and how they collect it and where it goes once it’s been collected.

I mean there is a lot of, just a lot uncertainty and lack of clarity around that. They could clean that up. The other problem, and to be honest, I believe it’s a mistake that Microsoft made, if for no other reason than public relations, is that the default setting for Windows when you set it up for Windows 10 is now to share a bunch more information than has been shared in the past.

By the time you run down all of the default and recommended settings, you’re using your Microsoft account, and you’re sharing a tremendous amount of information (apparently) with Microsoft as you use Windows 10.

Now, that may, or may not actually be a problem, and that’s why I say things are really, really unclear. Certainly, a lot of the press, of course, the anti-Microsoft biased press is going to be jumping on this a lot, and you’re going to hear a lot of negative stories about how in fact, evil, this kind of data collection really is.

Personally, I’m not convinced it’s really all that evil, but I have no data, I have no proof, I have no way of knowing that it’s not and that, like I said is if nothing else, a really bad public relations result for Microsoft’s release of Windows 10. Now, a lot of the initial pushback to Microsoft’s privacy issues is that all of this opt out.

By that I mean you can, even after things have been turned on, turn them off. Well, that’s why I say the public relations aspect of it, and to be honest, just the mistake of this, is that Microsoft turns it all on by default. Technically, they’ve asked your permission, because you of course, read the license agreement, and of course, you’ve read everything that’s on the screen as you go through the set up process.

The reality, of course, is that we don’t. We basically blindly accept what the license agreement says. I don’t want to read the whole thing. It’s a formula for a nap if nothing else, but the problem is, of course, that even what’s on the screen telling you what they are and aren’t going to share or do with the information is stuff that most people still just glaze over or just don’t fundamentally understand.

Microsoft, whether they’re taking advantage of this or not, simply assumes that you’ll agree with everything that they’re suggesting and thus the privacy issues arise. Like I said, you can opt out of a lot of it before the fact and after the fact, and over the course over the next few weeks, I’ll be publishing some articles that show you exactly how to do that, both as part of setting up Windows 10 to begin with, and if you’ve accepted those defaults, how to undo some of the mistakes that you might want to change later on. But that’s neither here or there.

The issue really is: is this a privacy issue for Microsoft and for people like you and me? Now, a lot of people aren’t necessarily going to like what I have to say next, but ultimately it’s still very, very true. I believe that Microsoft has the right to do with their product what they will, as long as they are above board about it; as long as they are telling you what it is they’re doing or maybe fixing the things that they didn’t tell us about that’s crept in by mistake.

Now, what that means though is that they have the right to require that you share certain kinds of information in order to be able to use certain functionality within Windows. Sometimes it makes total sense. Cortana, for example, wants your data about what you search for and how you search for and potentially even your voice recordings so that it can do a better job of recognizing and helping you in the future.

That happens on the Microsoft servers, not your local machine. That’s the way they’ve implemented it. That’s the way they’ve chosen to implement that. That means that they have the right to require that information in order to be able to provide that service. You, of course, have the right not to use that service. In fact, to be really hard-core about it, you have the right not to use Windows. You can switch platforms. You can switch to a Mac. You can switch to using Linux if you’re so inclined.

Yes there’s a cost involved, be it an actual monetary cost in getting a new machine or a cognitive cost in learning how to run these other operating systems, these other non-Microsoft alternatives, but those alternatives do exist, and that’s why just as Microsoft has the right to do what it wants with Windows, you have the right to do what you want with your time and your money. So, ultimately, is this a big privacy issue? Well, we don’t know.

My gut tells me that the information that’s being collected, be it everything by default, or some subset thereof is, in fact, being used for your benefit and for Windows’ benefit. I say that for two reasons. The information that’s being collected, I believe, is being used to make your experience with Windows better; to make your searches better; to provide more relevant information; to provide a better experience for you as you use the product.

I also believe it’s being used to make Windows better. If they see that a million people are doing this thing wrong by tracking their keystrokes or tracking their mouse movements or just tracking how they interact with an application, then that becomes data that says maybe we need to improve the product in that area.

I believe they’ve actually done that. They’ve listened to a lot of feedback already from Windows 8 and 8.1 and made some of the changes in Windows 10 to address those issues. I believe that a lot of this ongoing data collection to the extent that exists is for exactly for that same purpose.

Here’s the problem. I have no proof. It is just a gut feeling. I tend to assume that they’re using the information for good, not evil. Could they be using it for evil? I don’t know. I can’t prove that they’re not. I will say this though. I’ll quote what’s called Hanlon’s razor. Hanlon’s razor says this: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.”

Now, I’m not saying that some of these things are stupid. Some are; they could very well be. They could be blundering mistakes as part of implementing Windows 10, but I do believe that there are less severe explanations, less evil explanations for what’s going on, and that’s where I tend to migrate. That’s where I tend to go when I start looking at reasons.

Does this mean that they are not culpable? Of course they are; they are making mistakes; they are doing things that they shouldn’t be doing; they should be doing a better job of explaining this to us. Microsoft should be giving us more control, more transparency over what they’re collecting and how they are using it. They’re not; they should. That’s a mistake, but does it mean that they are being evil? I don’t think so, but I can’t prove it.

What do you think? Where are you going with all this? I’ve heard from many people that are happy with Windows 10; I’ve heard from many people that are avoiding Windows 10 specifically because of the privacy issues. Where are you on that spectrum? What’s your take on all of this? Remember, if you’re using other services like Google, like Gmail, like Facebook, like Twitter, like any of the other online services, you’re already sharing a tremendous amount of your information with those services.

The difference here is that it’s another big entity; another big entity that may have access to a little bit more, maybe, of what you’re doing on your PC. In a lot of ways, it’s not information that you’re already sharing with other services and providers.

So, like I said, what do you think? Where do you want to take this? What are you doing or not doing? What’s your gut feel? My gut feel is that they’re not being evil. What’s yours? Let me know. As always, if you’re seeing this anywhere but on askleo.com go visit this URL, I’ll have this article posted there with a transcript and the opportunity to comment.

I’d love to hear what you think. This privacy issue is a big one and I think it’s very important that it be discussed and that Microsoft hear some of our feedback. I hope that they’ll hear some of yours by posting it here on Ask Leo! Until next week, I’ll see you then. Take care.

90 comments on “Is “Windows 10 Privacy” an Oxymoron?”

  1. I earned the MCSE back in the late 1990s and have received tons of information from Microsoft over the years. Believe it or not, I have it all filed away. But, I feel safe working with their products, paying attention the their bulletins, and staying safe on the ‘net. (The one I fear in the security realm is Face Book!)

    Like you said, the secret is be aware of what you are doing when connected to the web.

    • It’s not possible for the average user, even a quite competent one, to be SURE what information MS is collecting and storing on its own servers. Once it’s left your machine you have no control over it. Even MS can be hacked. Data theft is so prevalent today that it’s no longer a question of “if” your data is stolen but “when” it will be stolen.

      If I do a lot of Cortana searches about my embarrassing medical problem, do I really want MS to keep a record of that? I don’t want Google keeping that record either so I have to fall back on a service like Duck Duck Go. Online spreadsheets for keeping tax or business records? Forget it. Only those programs that reside on my machine and keep their data exclusively on my machine are eligible. It is my machine and my data. I should have the ability to easily forgo, and have certainty that I have opted out of, those MS services that require me to give up my information.

      It looks like there is a business opportunity for someone to come up with a Windows replacement program that is simpler and addresses the privacy issues as a selling point. I would pay more for that OS in order to get what I consider a benefit.

      • How do you know that Duck Duckl Go keeps your information private, that they don’t collect data on you. You don’t. You only have the trust that they will do what they say. As soon as you interact with their server, they have the ability to track you and what you searched? You don’t know this. You only trust what they say.

        So why don’t more people trust Microsoft? Have they done bad in the past? Yes. Does that mean it will always be bad? No. Microsoft has gone through a lot of management changes and will continue to as the baby boomers who brought us the home computer retire.

      • 1) this assumes you trust duckduckgo (I’m not saying you shouldn’t trust them, but you ARE trusting that they will do what they say)

        2) Most would argue that many distributions of Linux are the OS you’re looking for.

  2. I’ve been using Windows 10 for a couple of weeks. I did turn off most of the defaults that sent data to Microsoft. As for Windows 10, I found it very similar to Windows 7. My desktop looks almost identical and I can run just about everything I ran in Win 7. Some of the screens are different but not a problem. A few hiccups at the beginning, those appear to have been taken care of.
    When I downloaded Windows 10, I was under the impression I could install later, It installed as soon as it downloaded. This was not a problem as I had just ran Macrium Reflect and I could have gone back to Windows 7. I haven’t and I’ve been using Windows 10 since. I have stored the last full image for Windows 7 and the first full image for Windows 10. This would have been more difficult without the ezines from Leo and Bob “Tourbus” Rankin.

    • My main concern is the software I currently have and whether or not they will work in Windows 10. Is there any software that you have that WON’T run on Windows 10? Now, I have software SO old, it probably doesn’t run in Windows 7, let alone 10, so I’m not worried about the REALLY old software. I’m not sure what guideline to use in defining old.

  3. Hi Leo my take on it is exactly this if you have nothing to hide if you are not doing things above the law then why should you fear, Windows i sure don’t i left it all default for one as i have nothing to hide i do nothing that i could get in trouble for, and i figured i’m already sharing with Big brother anyhow by using facebook, google ,twitter and microsoft bing, and a number of other sites on the internet. I also believe nothing is private if you use the internet your stuff is already out there. I mean in layman’s terms they know who you are where you live and what you are doing all the time. Also i’m not sure why people are complaining about this as if you use Microsoft xbox service you already have agreed to half of the window TOS. My belief is you are already sharing this info so what’s so wrong with it. I also believe it’s for the greater good of windows in a hole as then microsoft will see how its product is getting used and wow they gave it to us free so why complain. After all people you have a right a moral right to go use some other operating system like Ubuntu or something else. Or apple but apple has a TOS as well so better read that to.

    • Nothing to hide, Tony? Good for you. Then go ahead and give me your email login credentials, your bank account login info, your name, SS number and birth date too, while we’re at it.

      Now your claim to have nothing to hide seems somewhat specious, doesn’t it? It turns out privacy DOES matter.

    • Tom makes a good point. When you say you have nothing to hide, most people think about the government, and most people probably don’t have to worry about the government. Whether that is an issue or not is in itself a big discussion point, but everybody with a bank account or credit card has something to hide. I don’t believe Microsoft’s privacy issues open your accounts to this kind of attack. But in the case of WiFi Sense and Peer to Peer delivery of updates, these are things which can cost you money if you are on metered bandwidth and slow down your WiFi if a neighbor gets access to your network. Then there’s the problem if a neighbor who happens to get access to your network uses the connection for illegal activity.

      • WiFi Sense *does* open you up to having your data stolen. We have a home network, part of which is on a separate subnet and SSID, which includes a network share containing financial data. That share, only available on that subnet, is not password-protected. Should someone “share” that SSID password with someone else, they’d have unfettered access to that data. (Hopefully, Microsoft will never implement “network share sense”.)

        • Only internet access is shared. Your contacts would have no access to either network shares or other devices connected to the network.

      • I power off all devices connected to my computer nightly, including the router. I want to reduce electrical usage and turn off all the lights that might be on at night on those devices.
        Let’s see MS or anyone else use it then.

        • That would only protect you when not using the computer. In my case, I can’t shut off the router. My ISP provides VoIP phone service, and my phone wouldn’t work if I turned the router off.

    • Increasingly, our medical records are being stored in the cloud. Do you really want eveyone knowing what medications you are taking?

    • “Nothing to hide” is probably true of most of us. I resent any invasion of privacy.

      What about the complete lack of access to and control over Windows Update? ANYTHING can come through there. No clue what Win 10 will evolve into.

      • We’ve had Windows systems turned unbootable due to a Windows update. If I can’t tell Windows to not install that update again after a rollback (assuming Win10 allows a rollback), the system would be unusable.

        • Unless I am missing something Ken… that is a very good valid point. For the smart user who has images and restore points available, they can simply restore to a image prior to the “bad” update and then let it update again bypassing the bad one. But to the average Joe, he would have to wait for the patch and who knows what affect that would have in terms of a full fix. The forced updates is the only thing keeping me from win10. I am now reverted to win7 via an image backup because the “roll back” still carried issues from win10 back to win7 believe it or not. I think there are some issues, including this update one, that are deemed too far out of bounds for some, and in time good old Bill will succumb and intervene. I sure hope so.

          And to you Leo,
          What a wonderful unbiased presentation. I always love your work and have made your site the only trustworthy place to go for help. I, and I can see many others also, trust you fully to give the best advice. It will be a sad day when/if this site closes. Keep up the good work ol’ son.

    • “they know who you are where you live and what you are doing all the time”

      Yes, the companies you mentioned do know all about you and you’re relying on them to keep your information private. But this doesn’t always work out well. How many big companies and government agencies have been hacked and personal information revealed. Maybe you weren’t an Ashley Madison subscriber but it wouldn’t take much data from just one of these companies to allow an identity thief to make your life a living hell.

    • It’s certainly true that most of us good, honest folk have “nothing to hide.” To me, this is no reason for revealing even more information than you already do. As Leo put it, you don’t know what MS is really collecting, what they are doing with that info, nor where it goes once they have it. I have the luxury of owning a separate machine that I use mostly as an entertainment center – but it has full internet access via wifi. I had read good things about the new OS and decided to install W10 and let it “incubate” on this machine to see what problems might pop up before I install it on my main machine. I had already read about the pros and cons and was aware of the privacy concerns. So when I installed, I avoided the express setup and turned off every single feature offered as default. The install completed just fine, and the system has been running well (and a little faster too). So far, I’m pretty pleased with W10, and I know that I can turn on any of these features with Settings if I need them later on, but so far, nothing has come up. I have no intention of using Cortana or Wifi Sense – I’ll “muddle along” with searches and other functions just as I do in W7. If you use the internet – even very carefully – you’re forced to reveal a certain amount of information to get anywhere or get anything done. In my opinion, that uncomfortable fact provides no justification for serving up even more information on a silver platter to the man behind the curtain.

  4. Spot on Leo. I’m not a Microsoft hater nor am I a fanboy. But I enjoy using their products. So far, I very much like Windows 10. Having said that, there are a few things I’m not crazy about, like Wi-Fi Sense which I commented on on a previous post. I have no doubt the intentions behind the data collection are noble, for lack of a better word.

    But this really is not any different than what Google is doing with Android. Because I own both an Android tablet and smartphone, Google knows more about me than does my own mother. 😉

    The bottom line is be sure to educate yourself on what you are sharing. If you’re not comfortable with something turn it off.

    Of course it would help a lot if Microsoft wasn’t so vague in its data collection & retention policies.

  5. “Privacy” is an Oxymoron, there really is no such thing anymore unless you live in a cave and have absolutely no contact with anyone or anything….

    I’m not complaining or sounding the Conspiracy Theory Alarm, it’s just a matter of accepting what has been a reality for many years…..

    Get over it people, “1984” came and went a long time ago.

  6. I am a bit of a skeptic, so based on that, I am most definitely sitting on the fence in this regard for a while to see how these issues pan out.

  7. Hi Leo – As near as I can tell, Win10 is a huge improvement over the Win8 debacle. Given four PC’s in our home, I plan to step into Win10 one PC at a time over a period of time, leaving the most important machines until last. I expect Win10 to be like previous MS OS rollouts… equipped with lots of errors that MS will move to fix on a priority basis. At some point I expect some version of a Service Pack(s). This is how BIG software is dealt with. We must remember, “Perfection is the enemy of done.” and “Get it in the air and fix it their.” I’ll continue to listen to experts like yourself… at some point deciding to put my toe in the Win10 pond. I trust you will continue telling about the “good and evil” of Windows 10. Thanks!!

  8. I realize that our privacy is diminishing daily and I cannot say that I am happy about it. However, once you embrace the Information Technology (IT) age, you kind of have to take the good with the bad. The precautions I take is having a good backup that is not attached to my computer, being careful about the sites I log-in to, and thinking twice about what I write in e-mails. I have give up worrying about privacy. If large companies like Target, Home Depot and even OPM (Office of Personal Management) unless I get off the grid there is not much I can do.
    Just think how many car accidents occur daily? Will you stop using a car, a bus, a railroad or a plane?

    • Great point Rosita! I try to do the same thing, be careful about where I go, and no open suspicious emails, but I am going to do my banking and purchasing online, it’s too difficult not to. I really do appreciate learning that I shouldn’t use the “default” settings on the downloads, and I was just going to install Windows 10 tonight, so I really do appreciate this timely thread. Thanks Leo and everyone!

    • Exactly. Like it or not, privacy is very much an illusion today. Your ISP can see the websites you visit, your email provider can read your messages and your personal information is held in the databases of numerous banks, online stores and government departments – and could be accessed by the staff, hackers or anybody who happens to find a hard drive the organization has lost (something which has happened on numerous occasions). And, of course, the operating systems and web services you use mostly have the ability to track you to some extent.

      If you don’t like this, the only option is, as you say, to drop off the grid. Or, at least, drop off the internet.

      But is the lack of privacy really worth worrying about? Companies such as Microsoft, Apple and Google aren’t interested in spying on you personally; rather, they’re interested in using your data – aggregated with the data from millions of other people – to help improve their products and services and to deliver personalized content.

      Additionally, the fact that Windows, iOS, OS X and Android now access more of our personal information isn’t at all sinister; rather, it’s a reflection of the shift in how we use – and how we want to use – technology. We want devices and web services to know our locations so we can be provided with maps, news and relevant content and we want our data to be stored in the cloud so it can be accessed from any device or synced across multiple devices.

  9. Hi Leo, I have read this article and I’m always fascinated with what you say. Privacy issues always alarm me ever since Google started throwing stuff at me like questions like ‘do I like where I just was’ on the internet of course. But I have a question. I’m on the list to receive a Windows 10 update, but it keeps telling me it depends on when OEM releases it. I do have a Lenovo laptop and could it be the privacy issues that Lenovo was involved with Windows 8? I have Windows 7 and very much want Windows 10. Any reasoning for this or should I call Lenovo and ask them?

    Ralph, East Haven, CT

  10. I find it interesting to consider Windows 10’s update policy. It seems Microsoft has determined that those who use the Pro version likely know what they’re doing, while the users of the Home version must be led by the nose, and that Microsoft knows best. I can see the logic behind that, but it seems like it’s a switch that the end user should be able to throw, not Microsoft. As one who has been the extended family’s computer guru for over 20 years, I understand most don’t have my level of understanding about PCs, but they are also not stupid or blind (And dare I say, they were good students also).

  11. The only issue I have with Win 10 is the ” WiFi Sense “. My understanding of it, is that my wifi credentials will be shared with anyone I give access to my network, and in turn, their computer or phone, will pass that info on to their contacts, and this could go on infinitely . Why did MS feel that there was a need to share this info with every Tom, Dick, and Harry in the world ? To me, that is just wrong, and an invitation for nothing but trouble.

    • That’s not correct. A network will only be shared if 1) You’re running Windows 10 AND 2) Wi-Fi Sense is enabled AND 3) You decide to share that network. With Wi-Fi Sense enabled, whenever you connect to a network for the first time, you’re asked whether or not you want to share it. Say no, and it’ll not be shared. And if you do decide to share, only your contacts will be able to access the network; not your contacts’ contacts. Additionally, your contacts would never have access to your password which is held by Microsoft in encrypted form.

  12. I am extremely pleased with 10 but have read many of the privacy concerns. By and large the concerns seem to verge on hysterical overreactions.. When I use GPS, when I get ads from Google, when I go on facebook, it seems to me there is a high degree of my personal information being utilized. Isn’t Siri responding based on such utilization? Many of the commentators are downright nasty, few of them seem to provide thoughtful, rational information. I suspect that by and large these naysayers have vested interests in denigrating Microsoft. There stridency makes me more inclined there ever to side with Microsoft.

    • The concerns do indeed border on the hysterical. It’d be interesting to know what actually worries people. That somebody at Microsoft will single them out from the other 75 million+ Windows 10 users and peek to see how many cat videos they’ve watched on YouTube? That Microsoft will steal their credit card data and sell it on the black market? I think if people actually took the time to read Microsoft’s Privacy Statement – rather than simply paying attention to stories that overplay the situation – they’d be considerably less concerned.

  13. A couple of comments:

    1) “Privacy” is a one-word oxymoron, as William Shivers noted above.
    2) “Privacy” and “convenience” are at opposite ends of a sliding scale. You choose, every time you utilize an internet service.
    3) (And this is big) Even if, for the sake of argument, we assume that Microsoft (or any other service) has the best of intentions across the board, do you trust that the best intentions will prevail forever, and by all that may gain access to the information they collect? Legal access by gov’t entities and illegal access by hackers need to be considered, as well as future MS policies. Remember, info on the internet never goes away.

    It comes to this: Your personal information is flowing into immense servers, accessible to anyone with the power or tools to get at it. This happens whether or not you personally use the internet. Every business and internet service – including doctors, banks, stores, social media – are contributing. What you have is some measure of control over is how quickly it happens and how pervasive it is.

    Personally, I’ve decided that’s it’s worth the price in convenience to slow the pace. I won’t be switching to Win10, and I may even >gasp< wean myself from gmail. Not ready to give up my Android phone, though… :-/

    • As the owner of an Android phone, it seems to me that no device or platform shares more information than my phone does with Google. For better or worse, I just live with it.

      • That’s why I have a Blackberry instead of a GooglePhone. The BB10 system is so much “better” than Android in so many ways

      • Yup, it’s a trade-off for sure. With Windows, OS X, iOS or Android – or any of a multitude of web services – privacy is traded for convenience and functionality. While you can turn off many of the features that require access to your personal data – Google Now, Google Maps, Siri and Cortana, for example – in doing so, you’ll lose access to many of the features that make those platforms so great.

        Comppanies use/track your data for one or more of 3 reasons: 1) to provide a service; 2) to improve a service or 3) to make money (while your Gmail/Outlook account may be free to you, Google/Microsoft still have to buy the hardware to store and process your data).

        I really have no problem with any of this. I couldn’t care less if a company tracks my browsing in order to deliver targeted ads. If I’m going to see ads, I’d prefer to see ones that were targered to my interests and that I may actually find useful (it hasn’t happened yet, but maybe one day!).

        The privay aspects of Windows 10 – or OS X, iOS or Android – really don’t concern me at all. To my mind, the privacy trade-off is a worthwhile one for the functionality I obtain as a result.

  14. I’m very concerned about all this information currently collected by Microsoft. Why do they need it ie. “Contacts”? How can I be sure they are not selling on such information to the advertising agencies who will then bombard all my contacts with unsolicited ads? I’ve turned most options to “off” but then some of the features including Cortana won’t work.

    Whilst I am generally satisfied with Windows 10 this security issue is a big concern that should be addressed immediately by Microsoft if they wish to maintain confidence in their products.

    Joe.

  15. So will this eventually happen with Windows 7 & 8. I read that these updates bring the same telemetry and data collecting features to Windows 7 & 8 : kb3022345, kb3075249, kb3068708, kb3080149. If you have any of these updates already installed on your Windows 7 or 8 PC, they can be deleted.
    I only found 2 of them and they both were deleted (kb3075249 & kb3080149). Time will tell if they are installed again at the next update.
    I guess Microsoft really wants to be Big Brother.

    • UPDATE to my earlier post: I just checked if there were any pending updates on my Windows 8.1 PC
      There were only 2 optional updates listed, kb3075249 & kb3080149. These were the 2 I just deleted 2 days ago.
      Since they were listed as Optional Update, I assume they do not need be installed ever.
      I clicked ont the “more Information” for the updates that took me to https://support.microsoft.com/.
      Below is what it said.
      About this update: kb3075249
      “This update adds telemetry points to the User Account Control (UAC) feature to collect information on elevations that come from low integrity levels.”

      About this update: kb3080149
      “This package updates the Diagnostics and Telemetry tracking service to existing devices. This service provides benefits from the latest version of Windows to systems that have not yet upgraded. The update also supports applications that are subscribed to Visual Studio Application Insights.”

  16. Hi Leo, Privacy is very important to me ,most of us have something to hide that we do not want shared.i.e. bank accounts,passwords,etc.nothing clandestine. I just installed win10 free upgrade and would like to know where all the default settings are so I can make the choose to share or not share the information asked for. For once I am satisfied with Microsoft on their upgrades,this one went off with out a hitch having used win8.1 a lot of the settings were intuitive.

  17. I was having problems with laptop; Hotmail would not send a simple attachment and Hightail/yousendit no luck in sending videos.
    I tried recovery etc to no avail.
    Was invited to download Microsoft 10 and did it. More problems?? Well at first touchpad not responding; bought usb mouse to solve that; as days passed Micro 10 provided new driver for touchpad and a list of things improved.
    Microsoft 10 was busy sorting the problems……able to send attachments and videos and speed/performance is greatly improved.
    Glad that I tend not to listen to negs.
    I’m pleased.

    Nick

  18. I will be sticking with Windows 7 Professional until 2020 which is the date support ends for 7.

    An excerpt from the MS 10 EULA (End User License Agreement):

    “Finally, we will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary.”

    Now why does Microsoft need to get to my private files in my private folders? How does that benefit me? It doesn’t. And “good faith” is as lame as “reasonable suspicion”, i.e., just about any excuse will give them “good faith” cause in doing so.

    I don’t want a “service”, but a software product that I upgrade to a new version when I want to (yea I know this is the ‘last Windows”), but mark my word Windows will evolve into a subscription eventually because it is now a service like Office 365. You don’t think Windows will be free forever do you?

    I’ve been testing Windows 10 Technical Previews for a number of months now and there is nothing about it that excites me. Microsoft & others claim you get the Windows 7 Start menu back, but it is a crippled Windows 7 Start menu. You can’t customize it by creating new folders and/or reorganizing existing folders like you can in Windows 7. Even with the Windows 10 Technical Previews I found myself installing Classic Shell menu which is far more like the Windows 7 Start menu with its customizations than Windows 10.

    Like Joe mentioned above regarding telementary kb downloads, I have removed them and also have gone in to Windows 7 Task Scheduler and disabled all telementary, application experience & customer experience Improvement scheduled reporting.

    I have loved Windows in the past, but not the direction they are headed. I don’t want a cloud computer OS, but a desktop OS. It doesn’t help that Bill Gates & Microsoft are “New World Order” types either. They, the Obama’s, and the Bush’s can keep their NWO.

    As of now I run Windows 7 and inside 7 I run Linux Mint OS & Korora OS, particularly now when I go on the web, i.e. using virtualbox as a sandbox. Works nicely and if Microsoft continues in the direction it is going, then after 20 I’ll use strictly Linux like Mint or Korora as my primary desktop OS. Linux has improved a lot in the last few years I started tinkering with it.

    • That sounds extremely intrusive on Microsoft’s part, except that taken in context, they clearly define the conditions in which they will disclose that data:

      “Mandatory Disclosures we may access, disclose and preserve your personal information, including your private content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary to:
      (1) comply with applicable law or respond to valid legal process from competent authorities, including from law enforcement or other government agencies;
      (2) protect our customers, for example to prevent spam or attempts to defraud users of the services, or to help prevent the loss of life or serious injury of anyone;
      (3) operate and maintain the security of our services, including to prevent or stop an attack on our computer systems or networks; or
      (4) protect the rights or property of Microsoft, including enforcing the terms governing the use of the services – however, if we receive information indicating that someone is using our services to traffic in stolen intellectual or physical property of Microsoft, we will not inspect a customer’s private content ourselves, but we may refer the matter to law enforcement.”

  19. I’m now very glad I took Leo’s advice from some time ago to wait a while before accepting the upgrade from W7 to W10. Now there’s been so many dissatisfied users I doubt I’ll change at all unless I have to if/when my system dies. Indeed, I’m suspicious that so many have upgraded only because it is free of monetary cost; so many “free” things in this world are worth what we pay for them! In particular, the privacy issues appall me, particularly the wifi ones! And I suspect there will be more than those that Leo has addressed, and if Leo hasn’t discovered them, what hope for us to do so!
    I’m happy with W7 and even xp which both do for me what they always did, I have extensive backups on different devices as Leo advises, so I’ll delay the evil day of W10!

  20. Do you eve notice that some of the most vocal people complaining about their lack of privacy are the same people are using Chrome on their Android tablet doing their Google searches, watching You Tube videos, getting directions from Google Maps, and checking their GMail?

  21. Funny thing! I am not really concerned about privacy because, I have come to the conclusion that, there is no such a thing as ‘privacy’ anymore! From Chrome on the Android tablet to Google searches, watching You Tube videos, getting directions from Google Maps, and checking my GMail I sincerely believe that Google knows all about me PLUS! even things that I do not know about myself!
    So? I still have a certain amount of caution! For a long time now I never go with the ‘express’ (been expressly burnt too many times!) Then in setting up Windows 10 and coming to the Cortana issue? WOA horse! That’s a little bit too much to give–better give nothing at all!
    Thanks so much for this article! It certainly confirms the things that I was not too sure about. I am with you, I rather think stupidity than evilness! I think I am going to enjoy my journey in Windows 10 even without Cortana! 🙂
    His love in my heart for all, thia/Basilia

  22. From reading all of the comments on Ask Leo! about the privacy issues and technical problems, it seems to me that the apparent issues with Windows 10 are much more concerning than with Windows 8. Windows 8 only needed a small free program like ClassicShell to make it user friendly. The Windows 10 privacy issues are frightening a lot of people. I haven’t found any new features in Windows 10 which I use. I’ve been using Windows 8 since the first day it came out and never once used tile apps other than to check them out. The same with Windows 10. Cortana might be interesting, but it would be more work to plug in a microphone than to type my question into a search engine. Computers aren’t phones, and the apps which are useful on a phone don’t usually improve your PC experience.

    I’m not having any problems with Windows 10 and see no reason to stop using it, but I have a funny feeling that unless Microsoft publicly addresses the concerns, it might turn out to be an even worse debacle than Windows 8. The answer to most Windows 8 specific complaints was, get and install ClassicShell.

    I’m tempted to believe that Microsoft is giving Windows 10 away for free, because the information they get from it is worth more in marketing information than they would get from the few people who might pay for an upgrade.

  23. Personally I do not use Windows and I am thankful at this time that I don’t. I do think they have led users to have a false sense of security when it comes to the default settings. I don’t think they should have made so many default settings share so much data. People who do not know much about computers are most at risk when it comes to these settings.

  24. For me, I’ll wait to the end if the free upgrade period, read all the pros & cons, then decide. If Win10 offers no major advantages I’ll stay with 7. As Leo notes: we have freedom of choice, and learning a new OS will take time. Having said that, I just might pick up a Mac and change an old PC to Linux just to fiddle around with them and grow some new brain cells.

    Imagine the conspiracy theory that would equate MS to ATT, shuttling all our data, info and keystrokes directly to any of the three letter Gov’t Agencies. But, do you care? And yet, like Leo said, MS hasn’t said what (all) they’ll do with our info … a PR update would be nice but not necessary – it’s their product. I like Hanlon’s Razor, hadn’t heard that before.

    • Are you saying you’ll go ahead and and buy a copy then? It’s only free during the upgrade period. I bought an upgrade for Windows 8 for an old computer and was very glad to be able to do a full clean install with it. So that idea does have some advantages.

  25. I am really glad that Leo brought up that privacy issue on the table. All in all, I like windows 10 except for a few glitches here and there. However, in my humble opinion, Microsoft is starting to be brash and overbearing often to the point of becoming “dictatorial”. Talking about forcing Windows updates on everyone without any control over them anymore; talking about paying 10.00$/year to play Solitaire or Minesweeper (those games used to be free in previous versions of Windows); talking about mandatory Microsoft account in order to sign in to your own computer; and finally Cortana Oh dear Cortana! once activated it’s like you are an open book to Microsoft regarding your privacy. Whether it’s for a good purpose or an evil one, nobody likes his or her private life to be known or collected somewhere.

    • How do you know Leo isn’t selling information that his server picks up about you when you head over to Ask Leo? You don’t. All you have is Leo’s word that he doesn’t collect any other information than what is needed to provide you with the Ask Leo website and that he won’t sell any information that he does collect. I see the same thing with Microsoft. At some point you have to put some trust into what they say. And if you don’t like it, then don’t use it. There are other options out there.

      • Exactly. And, unlike Leo, Microsoft’s products and policies are scrutinized by third-party security and privacy experts to such an extent that it would be next to impossible for any malicious or illegal data collection practices to not be detected. I actually think Microsoft deserves some kudos for its clear, plain-English Privacy Statement, which is significantly better than many I have read. If people actually took the time to read it, they’d probably be a lot less concerned about the privacy implications of Windows 10.

    • Let’s be clear about a couple of things:

      You do NOT need to pay $10/year to play solitaire or minesweeper. You can play them for free still two ways: live with the ads that now accompany the free version, or get free alternatives elsewhere.

      Signing in with a Microsoft account is not mandatory, unless you use programs or features that rely on it.

      Cortana: so do you search using Google? Then you’re giving Google exactly the same information. What makes Cortana worse?

  26. Leo, you said, “My gut tells me that the information that’s being collected, be it everything by default, or some subset thereof is, in fact, being used for your benefit and for Windows’ benefit.” My gut feeling is something quite different. I have been skeptical of Microsoft’s corporate attitude toward it’s “customers” for years. Microsoft is at best, disingenuous. And actually seems to have ruthless disregard for service to its costumers unless it affects Microsoft profits. Microsoft is essentially a monopoly (don’t tell me it isn’t – I have my aluminum foil hat on and can’t hear you), and uses that leverage to do what it chooses to generate profits, rather than using exceptional service to its customers to attract profits. It has mostly worn off, but they were once commonly called “the evil empire”, and for good reason. A current example would be that quotation from the Windows 10 ULA by Greywolf (“Finally, we will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary.”), which can be acceptable only to fools, given the growing invasive propensities of “our” government. This isn’t just about software and convenience. That data collection (dare I say theft by coercion) and sharing capability, at Microsoft’s whim, completely circumvents any sort of privacy legislation limiting government’s unconstitutional data collection that could be implemented to protect our rights (reasonable suspicion, due process etc. – read the 4th and 5th amendments again). By using Windows 10, you sign away many of your civil liberties by blithely accepting what would otherwise be serious infringements on your Constitutional protections. You may think that if I don’t want to use Windows 10, I don’t have to, and you would be correct, and I won’t. However, the more people who capitulate to such strategies of infringement by any entit(ies) (and I can not assume that Microsoft is benign and/or acting alone in this – we must all remain skeptical), the more emboldened “they” become, and the more leverage they have. You may even be able to disable all the “telemetry”, but that does not remove that portion of the ULA quoted by Greywolf, which include the wording, “…we will access…”, think, “…we will access…” meaning that turning that stuff off just causes them to do what they say they “will” do, differently. Many of you say you have nothing to hide, so be it, but your apathy weakens and strips away something from all of us that we must preserve – our liberties. And such capitulation to such an egregious infringement attempt by Microsoft will strip those away, oh so more quickly. You may think you live in Disneyland, but you don’t.

    Microsoft was so cute as a puppy, but it has now grown up and has rabies.

    That’s all. I have to go buy more foil for hats now.

    • You said: ” And actually seems to have ruthless disregard for service to its costumers (sic) unless it affects Microsoft profits. ”
      Probably true, but are there any companies that really care about anything which doesn’t affect profits? Maybe a few are that conscientious, but that’s just the nature of capitalism. I’m not defending Capitalism, it’s a terrible system, but so far it seems to be the only system that works. If the outcry is big enough and a small but statistically significant number of users switch to Linux, Microsoft might rethink some of these policies.

  27. I’m going to keep doing like I have always done. If I don’t use something then I disable it “no calling home where ever that may be”, or uninstall it if you know there will be know future use, or it can be put back on later if need be. That is all I know to do if you are going to keep using these products. I go into the firewall and make sure it is blocked also if I keep it on and anything with it.

  28. Microsoft is not evil, only teflon coated towards users. and most likely for good reasons – as the knowledge gap between users and Microsoft is extreme. Explanations from Microsoft’s help services are close to useless for the average user, and when you meet some problem, you can hope that Leo or comparatives have met the question, and can supply some understandable solution.
    Windows in all flavors are extremely complex systems, and we as users are far behind and below the horizon- and can’t even ask the right questions.

    regards
    Otto Nielsen

  29. Here is Ed Bott’s post on this: No, Microsoft is not spying on you with Windows 10

    I wish I’d kept the link to a similar article written by a Linux advocate. He basically said that, as MS is going toward a unified experience, they combined several other licenses into one. The Win 10 license is nothing new. Nor is it any worse than any other company.

    Recently I visited Amazon.com to check their lineup of microwaves. Now I’m receiving ads on some sites promoting microwaves (mostly those I viewed) available on Amazon. I don’t know exactly how the ad providers got my information, but it’s part of the ongoing “personalized” ad movement provided by search engines, browsers, and who knows what else. I just know it wasn’t from Win 10 – I haven’t downloaded it yet.

    During the Win 8 Beta period, one commentator mentioned that what MS gleaned from their user experience (which began in XP and about Office 2000) to help design Win 8. That included the much bemoaned removal of the Start Button and Start Menu – being replaced with the Metro-like interface. The majority of users who participated in the user experience (a yes/no option) didn’t use those features. That corresponds to the few non-tech people I’ve encountered; their desktop was cluttered with folders/shortcuts that could have been put on the Start Menu. About all they used the Start Button for was to shut down the computer. I mention this solely to illustrate how MS uses the information sent to them. Various changes in Office and other MS software were also made based on information freely provided by consumers through the different information gathering programs.

    • You said: “Recently I visited Amazon.com to check their lineup of microwaves. Now I’m receiving ads on some sites promoting microwaves (mostly those I viewed) available on Amazon. I don’t know exactly how the ad providers got my information.” The didn’t get your information, as such. It’s simply the case that a cookie enables them to serve ads based on what you’ve looked at/searched previously. I have no problem with this. If I’m going to see ads on websites, they may as well be ads that (might) interest me.

      • Yes, and it’s not the website that knows who you are. It’s Amazon. The ads actually come from Amazon itself and simply feed into the websites you visit. So, although it feels scary, it’s simpler than people think. It does seem rather useless, to constantly display to me something I just bought, however.

      • The “who” and “how” was not the point. Whether it’s through cookies, the browser, search engine, or some other means, is irrelevant. What I was expressing is that other companies are gathering information about me without my express consent. Some of these companies are behind-the-scene, so we don’t even know who they are.
        At least MS put that out where anyone could (not necessarily would) read it.
        My point is that such data collection is not something Win 10 started. It’s been going on since Al Gore invented the Internet (a bit of humor here).

  30. I will not trust Microsoft as long as their definition of success is “profits”. I don’t begrudge them profits but a better definition, considering that consumers have little choice but to go along with the changes, would be “profits for us and a better experience for the users”. Generally, providing a product that accomplishes the second will invariably lead to the first.

    What Microsoft could do to, at least partially, regain my trust is

    1. be clear as to what data is collected and what use is being made of it
    2. provide a control panel app that allows access to all the privacy settings

    Many of us have seen the “God Mode” hack that allows access to virtually all settings in one folder. Surely amalgamating privacy settings should be a simple matter. Unless, of course, the goal is to make it difficult to turn these “features” off. Apparently some website addresses are hard-coded into Windows 10 such that even modifying the hosts file will not disable communication.

    When you ask a politician a direct question and he waffles with a non-answer it usually means “you wouldn’t like a truthful answer”. I’d just as soon err on the side of caution. Consider umbrellas. The weather report says 50% chance of rain. If you carry one and it doesn’t rain then are merely inconvenienced. If you forget it and it does rain you get drenched.

    The new start menu still sucks.

    But I’m not bitter.

    • In Settings (the sort of replacement for the Control Panel), if you click on Privacy, you’ll get to the privacy settings. Unfortunately, I can’t vouch that those are really all of the privacy settings that exist, but I turned them all off hoping for the best.

      I have another comment on this page with the details of the privacy settings I changed.

      And if you don’t like the new Start Menu, get Classic Shell. I use it with Win 10.

    • As Mark stated, they’re amalgamated under Settings > Privacy. There is a total of 13 screens, which allow for very granular control over what data is/is not shared with Microsoft.

  31. My only concern with Windows 10 is whether or not software that can be used in Windows 7 will run in Windows 10. I’m not concerned with privacy, because it can be used to its advantages. Microsoft isn’t the only company doing that, as mentioned. Granted, I don’t want people to access my bank account info and some other things.

    I just got back from vacation, and I used Google Maps to find my way. It’s nice to enter data, and it finds where I want to go, especially near to where I’m located. It didn’t always work that way, but this didn’t bother me. I liked it.

    Leo, I especially liked the way you mentioned the privacy, adding a caveat that it’s your “gut”. I’m in agreement with you, and there will be people that will try to make it seem like Microsoft is evil. Until that is proven, I’m not going to worry about it. Each company that collects data is the same thing. Google collects data, too. I doubt the intentions are evil.

    • Almost all software which works on Windows 7 also works on Windows 10. Fielding questions for Ask Leo!, I’ve seen more cases of hardware not being compatible. The best way to find out is to back up your system, upgrade to Windows 10 and revert back if you encounter any problems.

  32. I think for many Win10 will push them into the Linux camp, its irrelevant as far as Microsoft is concerned if Apple and Google already have a ton of stuff about me I just don`t want another body gleaning the same stuff or as it would seem more. I hope Leo that you can shed some light on the privacy issue and I will think about the topics you will cover but nothing at the moment will persuade me to download Win10. Its refreshing however for you to tell us that actually you don`t know all the answers or some of the questions pity Microsoft aren`t so forthright .But we do know the EULA is open about giving our private files to 3rd parties why would the EU and the British Government be so concerned over Microsofts apparent mining activities? I await your response until then I am not hitting the exe button

  33. I would have no problem with Windows 10 if Microsoft would just tell me where they hide the Send absolutely nothing to Microsoft button.

  34. ok Leo
    Did Microsoft buy your computer? no they didn’t
    Did Microsoft pay for your internet connection? no they don’t
    so how it’s ok that microsoft make copy of the stuff you have in your hard drive?
    so how it’s ok that microsoft is using your internet connection to send windows updates to other users?
    well it’s your computer
    well it’s your internet connection
    so in the end you decide what to do with it
    but do not tell me that microsoft have the right to acting like they own things are not belong to them
    because that is pure simple crap..!!

  35. Concerning privacy issues check out Bill Gates/microsoft and Common Core. It appears that your computer isn’t the only way to get info.

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