from the delightfully-invasive dept
So far, Microsoft's been dead silent on these issues for months, which hasn't done much to defuse the situation. This week, the company decided to finally comment on user concerns in a blog post and both consumer and enterprise privacy documents that address at least some user worries. Microsoft's Terry Myerson starts by promising that Windows 10 user data is encrypted in transit, the company isn't scanning your files or e-mails to blast you with ads, and any data collection Microsoft is engaged in is simply the company trying to develop a "delightful" OS experience:
"We aspire to deliver a delightful and personalized Windows experience to you, which benefits from knowing some things about you to customize your experience, such as knowing whether you are a Seattle Seahawks fan or Real Madrid fan, in order to give you updates on game scores or recommend apps you might enjoy– or remembering the common words you type in text messaging conversations to provide you convenient text completion suggestions."Microsoft also takes a few shots at Google in the entry:
"Unlike some other platforms, no matter what privacy options you choose, neither Windows 10 nor any other Microsoft software scans the content of your email or other communications, or your files, in order to deliver targeted advertising to you."The problem with Microsoft's response is largely one of omission. Sure, the OS doesn't scan your e-mail and files for ad purposes, but you'll note the company doesn't really mention the OS's ingrained search and Cortana data being used for that purpose. Microsoft also doesn't really address why users don't really have control over telemetry (crash) data as in previous Windows versions (the enterprise version of Windows 10 allows crash telemetry data reports to be disabled entirely, while the mainstream Home and Pro versions of Windows don't). Ars Technica probably puts it best:
"There's nothing new here and nothing that's likely to convince those concerned about Windows 10's privacy. Two classes of data are excluded—communications (including e-mail and Skype) and file contents—but everything else appears to be fair game for ad targeting. So while Cortana can't use your e-mail to tailor ads to your interests, it appears that she could use the appointments in your calendar to do so, for example."Microsoft also doesn't really address concerns about Windows 10 just being annoyingly chatty, sending numerous reports back to the Redmond mothership even when the operating system is configured to be as quiet and private as possible. The core problem with Windows 10 remains that opt-out settings remain muddy and in some cases ineffective, and it's not really clear how a lot of the OS-collected data is being used. Microsoft's blog post fails to really address this, though the company at least promises to start elevating the privacy conversation to the level of security-related discourse.
Granted, there's no shortage of people who will simply never trust the company no matter how much progress is made, justifiably citing decades of bad behavior as precedent. And while it's lovely that Microsoft's focused on crafting a "delightful" OS experience, the refusal to give Windows 10 users total, clear control over their OS still doesn't reflect a company that now claims to be in the vanguard of consumer privacy issues.