Skip to main content

Microsoft is giving users more control over the private data Windows 10 collects

microsoft building tab support into windows 10 upgrade popup
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Windows 10 has brought a number of new features and capabilities to PCs, such as a user interface that can work with both desktops and touch-centric 2-in-1 devices. While Microsoft backed off from its original plans of having a billion Windows 10 users by 2018, the company has still managed to upgrade an impressive 400 million users to its newest and most strategic operating system.

Things haven’t been all smooth sailing for Windows 10, however. One of the areas generating the most significant number of complaints has been Microsoft’s privacy policies regarding how Windows 10 gathers and passes along various information. Today, Microsoft announced some upcoming changes to how it manages private information, including granting more control to Windows 10 users.

The new privacy dashboard is available starting Tuesday, January 10. While it’s not perfect, the new system does provide significantly more transparency into what information Microsoft is collecting, and you can now clear out much of that information if you think the company is in possession of too much of your personal data.

First up is a new privacy dashboard that provides access to new information regarding the kind of data Microsoft is collecting on users. All you need to do is go to the privacy section of Microsoft’s account website while signed in with your Microsoft account. Once there, you can click on the Privacy tab and check out various historical information that’s saved whenever you’re logged into Windows 10 and have certain settings turned on.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Browsing history through Microsoft’s Edge browser can be managed with the privacy dashboard as long as you have Cortana set to track it. If you’re logged into your Microsoft account on Bing, your search history can be managed there as well. Location data tracked on devices via GPS can be controlled, and you can clear the information Cortana is using to keep you updated on your various interests.

Next up are some changes coming to Windows 10 in the Creators Update coming in the spring. These changes will be available to Windows Insider participants to try out, but if you’re not in Microsoft’s early-access program, here’s what you have to look forward to.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The first change is a new, more explicit installation routine that will provide more obvious options for setting up your privacy settings. If you’re already running Windows 10, then you’ll receive notifications to specifically choose the same privacy options.

The next change is a more simplified diagnostic data collection process. Instead of three options, you’ll now have just two: Basic and Full.

Finally, the Basic level will now collect less data. After the Creators Update, only data that’s vital to Windows 10’s operation will be collected. This will help keep apps secure, updated, and reliable, with only basic error reporting.

As with much of what Microsoft is doing lately, the company is clearly interested in responding to the feedback it has received from customers. While these privacy changes will likely not satisfy everyone who’s concerned about the information that’s being collected, Microsoft is at least making an effort to be more transparent.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Coppock
Mark has been a geek since MS-DOS gave way to Windows and the PalmPilot was a thing. He’s translated his love for…
Top 10 Windows shortcuts everyone should know
An individual using a laptop's keyboard.

Windows shortcuts are a constantly-used feature by practically all PC users. Apart from saving you time from carrying out the specific command without having to perform a few extra clicks on your mouse, it’s simply more convenient to refer back to shortcuts via your keyboard.

Although you may be satisfied with the Windows shortcuts you already know about and utilize on a daily basis, you can enhance your general Windows experience in a big way with these 10 shortcuts everyone should know.
Ctrl + Z
Tired of always having to use your mouse to find and click the Undo button on a program like Microsoft Word or, say, entering details on a website or editing images? Ctrl + Z will basically undo whatever your last action was, providing you a convenient way to reverse edits and changes within a second. From personal experience, this shortcut proved to be especially useful for productivity applications.
Ctrl + Shift + T
We’ve all been there. Nowadays, our browsers are inundated with multiple tabs, and as such, it’s hard to keep track of at times. Eventually, you’re going to close a tab on accident when trying to select it. Instead of trying to remember what it was or spending a few seconds accessing it and reopening it via the Recently Closed feature (on Chrome), simply hit Ctrl + Shift + T to restore the last closed tab. Similarly, Ctrl + N will open a new tab.
Alt + Tab

Read more
After 10 years of headaches, I’m finally a believer in Windows on ARM
The Microsoft Surface 3 with its blue keyboard.

Almost two years in, Apple is on the verge of completing its transition to ARM. It might surprise you to know, then, that Microsoft started its own journey to ARM chips long before Apple.

But Windows' support for ARM has been far less smooth. There aren't many more Windows devices with ARM chips than there were five years ago -- and I can attest to having personally used every failed attempt along the way.

Read more
The latest Windows update is causing major printer problems
A Dell laptop with Windows 10 sitting on a desk.

Microsoft is now offering Windows 10 users a workaround for an issue that has come along with a mid-July update.

The KB5015807 update, which rolled out on July 12 and includes OS Builds 19042.1826, 19043.1826, and 19044.1826 all have a glitch that affects printers connected to computers running Windows 10. After the update is installed, you might see multiple printer listings available when you only have one product.

Read more