Microsoft Revamps Privacy Setup Experience in Windows 10

The next big Windows 10 feature update will include a revised setup experience with more privacy options.

Windows 10

Microsoft wants to put to rest any lingering concerns about exactly what user data Windows 10 collects and transmits to the software giant servers.

In January, just before Data Privacy Day, the company previewed a new tool called Windows Diagnostic Data Viewer that provides PC users with detailed information on Microsoft's telemetry-gathering operations.

The tool, which will be released to the Microsoft Store when the next major Windows 10 feature update arrives this spring, allows users to take a closer look at the system and usage information that Windows sends to Microsoft.

Now in the latest Windows 10 test build for PCs, Microsoft is showing off a new setup experience that promises to offer users more control over how their data is shared with the company.

Build 17115, available March 6 to members of the Windows Insider early-access program, features a revamped set of controls that greet users when they first run the operating system. "This new design conveys focused information to help our customers make focused choices about their privacy and offers two new settings for Inking & Typing and Find my device," blogged Marisa Rogers, Windows and Devices Group Privacy Officer at Microsoft.

Those new settings may show up in a single-screen layout or as separate screens for some users so that the company's developers can gauge which approach is most effective. On separate screens, Microsoft will highlight its privacy recommendation—typically the choice that involves sending information to Microsoft—by framing it with a dotted line. Ultimately, some users may be presented with up to seven individual screens.

Data privacy is an ongoing concern and not only for Microsoft and its customers.

Apple makes the data collected by its Face ID technology, which uses 30,000 infrared dots to precisely map a user's face, available to app developers. Critics warn that the data may be misused, particularly if it is processed by artificial intelligence and machine learning systems that delve deeper than is required to unlock an app or create animated emojis.

On Jan. 8, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that VTech Electronics agreed to pay a $650,000 fine after the company was charged with violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act and FTC Act. The company suffered a data breach in December exposing the information on 5 million children who used its connected toys, a breach attributed to inadequate database security.

More Windows Bugs Squashed

Signaling that the release of the next major Windows 10 update is approaching, build 17115 also includes numerous bug fixes.

Microsoft addressed an issue that caused a "green screen of death"—a version of the dreaded "blue screen of death" that shows up for Windows Insiders—if a user attempted to open certain files in OneDrive. Also gone is a flaw that caused a reboot loop after the operating system failed to install successfully on some systems.

Windows Mixed Reality, Microsoft's take on virtual and augmented reality, should prove a little more stable for some users. The company's coders fixed problems that could cause Windows Mixed Reality to crash and or produce agonizingly slow frame rates of eight to 10 frames per second in some instances.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...