The Windows 10 Tech Preview is snooping in on you, just so you know

windows 10 tech preview privacy policy data collection search
Perhaps we’re getting too used to big tech companies collecting, using, and often distributing information about us without our permission.

Invasions of our privacy have become commonplace, and, for the most part, we tolerate them. We do so, solely, it would seem, because we value the convenience and productivity that we get by using these operating systems, applications, and online services that collect data about us. This data ranges from information about our systems, to how we use our computing devices, what software we use, our Internet usage, what we buy, and more.

Still, many users, developers, and journalists were taken aback recently by much of the language contained within the “Privacy Statements for Windows Technical Preview” document that accompanies Microsoft’s recent release of the Windows 10 Technical Preview.

Then again, this is, after all, a beta testing program. It’s voluntary; and Microsoft (as you’ll see in a moment), has at least been completely candid about what data it will collect, how, and what it will be used for.

What data does the Windows 10 Technical Preview collect, and how?

“When you acquire, install and use the Program, Microsoft collects information about you, your devices, applications and networks, and your use of those devices, applications and networks,” Microsoft says on the Privacy Statements page, under the “Data We Collect” section. “Examples of data we collect include your name, email address, preferences, and interests; browsing, search and file history; phone call and SMS data; device configuration and sensor data; and application usage.”

In other words, Redmond will collect data in nearly every way possible. But, believe it or not, as ominous as all this sounds, it’s not that unusual. What’s different here is that Microsoft is actually spelling it out.
Plus, the company says that it will collect, analyze, and use voice input data, as well as information about the files, and applications you use to edit them. For instance, when you “open a file, we may collect information about the file, the application used to open the file, and how long it takes,” Microsoft says.“The Program contains internet-enabled features and social functionality.”

“The Program contains internet-enabled features and social functionality,” Microsoft says. “When these features are used, they transmit certain standard computer information (“Standard Computer Data”) to Microsoft. Standard Computer Data may include information about the Program computing environment such as IP address, network status, operating conditions and information about devices and software used with the Program.”
The document also says that when you “enter text, we may collect typed characters and use them for purposes such as improving autocomplete and spellcheck features.”

In Microsoft’s defense

Microsoft claims, of course, that all this snooping will help the company create the best Windows 10 experience possible. According to The Inquirer, Microsoft not only admits to monitoring file usage in the Technical Preview, but also collecting input, up to, and including keylogging.

In response to concerns over the language in the privacy statement, the company reminded the world that the Windows 10 Technical Preview is not a consumer product. Plus, more importantly, by installing and continuing to use this pre-release version of the OS, users have agreed (and continue to agree) to the policy.

“Users who join the Windows Insider Program and opt-in to the Windows 10 Technical Preview are choosing to provide data and feedback that will help shape the best Windows experience for our customers,” Microsoft said in a recent statement.

Beta OS testing one, two, three

In past new releases of Windows, users have gotten themselves into trouble by installing pre-release software on their primary machine. After all, the software is in the testing phase. As such, it’s not a good idea to trust important work, documents, and more to a machine running an OS that is far from a finished product.

That said, the question of whether Microsoft’s intrusive data collection procedures will continue once the OS is fully launched in 2015 remains. To that, Microsoft isn’t offering any concrete information.

“When we release the new version of Windows, we will have a privacy statement that reflects the final product, and will share more as development continues,” Microsoft says.

As for this pre-release version of Windows 10, the only way to stop it from collecting data and sending it back to Microsoft is to uninstall it (or turn the machine off, of course). Also, you simply don’t have to install the preview if you don’t want to.

It will be interesting to see just how many of these privacy intrusions will carry over to the full version of Windows 10, if any, once it’s released sometime next year.


Apple banned from distributing some iPhone models in Germany

Apple is following the FTC's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.

Get $100 discount on the Razer Phone 2 for a limited time

The Razer Phone 2 is finally here, and it's got upgraded specs, that super-smooth 120Hz display, and an updated design. Here's absolutely everything you need to know about the Razer Phone 2.

Here are all the awesome games you can play without a fancy graphics card

Just because you don't have a dedicated graphics card, it doesn't mean you can't enjoy some of the best games out there right now. This is our list of the best games you can play on Intel integrated graphics.

Here are 20 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great small gift ideas), we've rounded up 20 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth keyboard.

The Asus ZenBook 13 offers more value and performance than Apple's MacBook Air

The Asus ZenBook 13 UX333 is the latest in that company's excellent "budget" laptop line, and it looks and feels better than ever. How does it compare to Apple's latest MacBook Air?

AMD Radeon VII will support DLSS-like upscaling developed by Microsoft

AMD's Radeon VII has shown promise with early tests of an open DLSS-like technology developed by Microsoft called DirectML. It would provide similar upscale features, but none of the locks on hardware choice.

You could be gaming on AMD’s Navi graphics card before the end of the summer

If you're waiting for a new graphics card from AMD that doesn't cost $700, you may have to wait for Navi. But that card may not be far away, with new rumors suggesting we could see a July launch.

Is AMD's Navi back on track for 2019? Here's everything you need to know

With a reported launch in 2019, AMD is focusing on the mid-range market with its next-generation Navi GPU. Billed as a successor to Polaris, Navi promises to deliver better performance to consoles, like Sony's PlayStation 5.

Cortana wants to be friends with Alexa and Google Assistant

Microsoft no longer wants to compete against Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant in the digital assistant space. Instead, it wants to transform Cortana into a skill that can be integrated into other digital assistants.

Microsoft leans on A.I. to resume safe delivery of Windows 10 Update

Microsoft is leaning on artificial intelligence as it resumes the automatic rollout of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update. You should start seeing the update soon now that Microsoft has resolved problems with the initial software.

Stop dragging windows on your Mac. Here's how to use Split View to multitask

The latest iterations of MacOS offer a native Split View feature that can automatically divide screen space between two applications. Here's how to use Split View on a Mac, adjust it as needed, and how it can help out.

It's not all free money. Here's what to know before you try to mine Bitcoin

Mining Bitcoin today is harder than it used to be, but if you have enough time, money, and cheap electricity, you can still turn a profit. Here's how to get started mining Bitcoin at home and in the cloud.

Need a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator? Here are our favorites

Photoshop and other commercial tools can be expensive, but drawing software doesn't need to be. This list of the best free drawing software is just as powerful as some of the more expensive offerings.

What is fixed wireless 5G? Here’s everything you need to know

Here's fixed wireless 5G explained! Learn what you need to know about this effective new wireless technology, when it's available, how much it costs, and more. If you're thinking about 5G, this guide can help!