Revealed! Crucial detail that Windows 10 privacy critics are missing

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  1. Brink's Avatar
    Posts : 34,455
    64-bit Windows 10 Pro build 18290
       07 Jan 2016 #1

    Revealed! Crucial detail that Windows 10 privacy critics are missing

    Here we go again, with another ginned-up controversy over Windows 10 and privacy.

    I know, I know, you're probably as sick of this as I am, and much of the "controversy" is being spread by dedicated Microsoft haters and clueless writers who make a living with breathless clickbait. They're actually not interested in facts, because the controversy sells so well.

    So let's tackle the latest outrage du jour. Betanews and Forbes are shocked, shocked by a recent blog post by Microsoft exec Yusuf Mehdi, who recites statistics about how 200 million users of Windows 10 are using the new OS.

    Ladies and gentlemen, this is not "spying." It's analytics.

    Microsoft knows, for example, how much time Windows 10 users have spent using the new Microsoft Edge browser since the OS launch last July (44.5 billion minutes).

    Thanks to telemetry, Microsoft knows that 82 billion photos have been viewed in the Windows 10 Photos app and that Cortana has answered 2.5 billion questions.

    And they have similar statistics about search queries and streaming Xbox games to Windows 10 devices.

    How could they possibly know these things?

    Ladies and gentlemen, this is not "spying." It's analytics.

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    That distinction is not semantic. It is essential to understanding how software is developed in the modern, cloud-connected world.

    It has also been fully, even exhaustively disclosed. Anyone who writes about Windows and isn't aware of that should probably change careers or at least be honest about their sensational headlines. (Seriously, "Massive Windows 10 News Hides 5 Nasty Surprises" is an actual Forbes headline. I think it needs a few exclamation points, an OMG, and a poop emoji to be complete. Don't you?)

    Microsoft does not care that a random Windows 10 user (let's call him George), used a particular app for 40 minutes yesterday, or that he installed an app and only used it once, or that he changed his default browser from Edge to Chrome yesterday.

    In fact, they are so not interested in George's individual activities that they anonymize the telemetry data returned by Windows 10 so that it cannot be used to personally identify him. You and I are similarly protected.

    So Microsoft knows what percentage of their installed base uses Edge, but they can't tell a thing about the behavior of individuals like you or me or George. We are not being spied upon. Our anonymized data is worthless on its own and only becomes valuable as part of a massive data set...

    Read more: Revealed! The crucial detail that Windows 10 privacy critics are missing | ZDNet
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  2.    07 Jan 2016 #1

    Good article Shawn!!!! Thanks.....
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  3. dencal's Avatar
    Posts : 2,851
    W10 Pro + W10 Preview
       07 Jan 2016 #2

    Unfortunately this article will not dispel the paranoia that those with privacy issues feel.
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  4.    08 Jan 2016 #3

    I think those people have privacy issues, not Windows...
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  5.    08 Jan 2016 #4

    You may call it analytics, but it is still data collection, and I do not like it. The data may be anonymized, but in many cases it will still be possible to uniquely identify people.
    And should we just trust Microsoft on their say-so that the collected data are innocuous, now and in perpetuity?
    Even basic data collection should be opt-out.
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  6. Posts : 138
    Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64-bit BETA
       08 Jan 2016 #5

    It's a Brave New World. That's not so new these days

    Google have done it for a long time
    Apple have done it for a long time
    Many others have done it for a long time

    MS finally caught on, you can't blame them for this.
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  7.    08 Jan 2016 #6

    Windows 7 also contains all kinds of telemetry, but one can turn it all off if one is so preoccupied with privacy, or simply wants to reduce the bandwidth usage. Apparently in Windows 10 it's not so easy and some say impossible. That's the real controversy in my opinion. The quoted article does not offer anything new on that point.
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  8.    08 Jan 2016 #7

    Couldn't agree more, some people are such conspiracy theorists...
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  9.    08 Jan 2016 #8

    While I generally like Ed Bott and his articles - unless he has seen Windows source code, can confirm 110% on what exactly is being collected by that code and finally - what MS is actually doing with that data - I call it a privacy issue.

    Of course MS is going to say publicly that it's simply "telemetry data". What else are they going to say - really. I am certain their lawyers have drafted an exacting elevator speech to be used anytime the general public comes sniffing around on this topic.

    Still - the strangest part of this entire debacle is why a Win 10 Enterprise user can ensure MS gets zero "data" but Joe Public user has no recourse but to dial things back to minimal.

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  10.    08 Jan 2016 #9

    siepo said: View Post
    You may call it analytics, but it is still data collection, and I do not like it. The data may be anonymized, but in many cases it will still be possible to uniquely identify people.
    That's right... it's called metadata... the same thing the NSA is not supposed to be collecting but does anyway. As someone else said, above, MS isn't the only company that engages in metadata collection, and many people are just fine with it as long as you give them cable television and an iPhone, they are content with just about anything... which is why companies are able to continue collecting metadata. It won't stop and will only get worse until people get angry about it. The article in the original post is obviously written by someone who is content with data collection and wants to encourage other people to be just as content.
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