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Microsoft to intro a new Windows 10 app for a better look at its data collection

A woman sits by a desk and types on a laptop that runs Windows 10.

Just ahead of Data Privacy Day on January 28, Microsoft reports that it plans to introduce new and updated privacy features in Windows 10. More specifically, the company plans to inject its operating system with a new tool called Windows Diagnostic Data Viewer, and update the current Microsoft Privacy Dashboard. Both are planned for the next major Windows 10 update, but Windows Insider Program participants will get an early preview. 

The Windows Diagnostic Data Viewer will provide means for searching and viewing cloud-based diagnostic data related to your specific Windows 10 device. For a detailed list of Microsoft’s data collection, you can read the massively long list here. But here’s a watered-down chart showing the data you can access using the upcoming tool: 

Type  Contents 
Common Data

Information such as the operating system version, the Device ID, device class, diagnostic level, and more

Connectivity and Configuration

Information related to the device capabilities, connected peripherals, preferences, network details, and so on

Product and Service Performance

Overall device health, performance, and reliability. This category also includes video and audio consumption functionality, and file queries

Product and Service Usage

Details regarding device, operating system, application, and service usage

Software Setup and Inventory

Details regarding device update information, installed applications, and install history

Microsoft says it doesn’t keep track of your viewing and listening habits, but rather how well those video and audio files play on your device. Still, as the list shows, Microsoft keeps quite a bit of information in the cloud pertaining to you and your Windows 10 device. Storing information about your installed programs and overall install history is a little creepy, hence why Microsoft wants to give you full control over your diagnostics data. 

Once it goes live, the Windows Diagnostic Data Viewer will appear as an app in the Microsoft Store. “The app’s Menu button opens the detailed menu,” the company explains. “In here, you’ll find a list of diagnostic event categories, which define how the events are used by Microsoft. Selecting a checkbox lets you filter between the diagnostic event categories.”

Microsoft adds that the upcoming Windows Diagnostic Data Viewer app will provide means to view, search, and filter diagnostic data. What the app doesn’t appear to provide, at least based on Wednesday’s brief introduction, is means for manually blocking specific data collection. Instead, Microsoft indicates that you can “take action” by using the event feedback tool. 

Meanwhile, the Microsoft Privacy Dashboard will feature a revamped Activity History page to better view all data linked to your Microsoft Account. This page will eventually play host to tools for viewing and managing media consumption data along with product and service activity. Microsoft will also implement tools for deleting specific items, and exporting all dashboard data. 

Given the Windows Diagnostic Data Viewer app and revamped Microsoft Privacy Dashboard are now rolling out to Windows Insiders, both will be tweaked based on participant feedback. The big “Redstone 4” update for the general public will likely arrive in March or April. 

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