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When Microsoft Publicly Bragged About Spying on Windows 10 Users

Rafia Shaikh
Posted Jan 6, 2016
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The last six months have probably seen more news around Windows 10 than any other release in the industry. Microsoft did its part well to keep the new operating system alive even after its release and rollout. From nagging notifications to automatic downloads and keylogging instances, Windows 10 has managed to successfully attract all kinds of hatred and controversy amid its success of hitting over 200 million devices in less than 6 months. Earlier this week the company shared all about its Windows 10 achievements in a blog post, unwittingly sharing more than it may have wanted to.

windows 10 data collection

Windows 10 collects more user data than earlier thought:

Microsoft has continually denied that it’s using the “free” Windows 10 operating system to spy on its users. However, the majority of the concerned users are still not convinced if the OS they are using isn’t snooping into their lives more than it should. By now, all the users know that giving some data has become part of the package as every connected device leaves some bread crumbs on the internet and shares some data with the companies responsible for services and products we use. While it has become a standard for major tech companies to try to mine as much data as they can, Windows 10 has managed to be at the center of this privacy saga.

In a post, Microsoft revealed that Windows 10 is now active on over 200 million devices, including the Xbox One upgrades. What we missed, however, was a number bragging statements that confirm once again that we are giving away way too much to Microsoft in the process of using its latest operating system. Here are a “few fun facts on what people have been doing on Windows 10” that Microsoft’s Senior Vice President Yusuf Mehdi wrote about (via GHacks):

  1. People spent more than 11 billion hours on Windows 10 in December 2015.
  2. 44.5 billion minutes were spent in Microsoft Edge across Windows 10 devices in December 2015 (0.71 billion hours).
  3. Users asked Cortana more than 2.5 billion questions since launch.
  4. More than 82 billion photos were viewed in the Windows 10 Photo application. (eek!)
  5. Windows 10 gamers spent over 4 billion hours playing PC games. (Seriously?)
  6. Gamers have streamed more than 6.6 million hours of Xbox One games to Windows 10 PCs.
Windows 10 Anniversary Update Broke Millions Of Webcams, Probably Yours Too

While some of these numbers are shockingly surprising, we are not here to show off for Microsoft. What this list confirms is that Microsoft has admitted to not only logging users’ time on Windows 10 but also the individual applications. From the hours a user spends in playing games to everytime we open a photo, Microsoft knows and it’s certainly NOT accepted. When folks at BetaNews contacted Microsoft to explain why the data “is being collected,” Microsoft responded,

Thank you for your patience as I looked into this for you. Unfortunately my colleagues cannot provide a comment regarding your request. All we have to share is this Windows blog post.

Okay. So, you take all our data and we don’t even deserve a proper response? BetaNews rightly makes the conclusion that “Microsoft’s spying is intrusive enough to reveal how long you have been using Windows 10, but the company is not willing to be open about the collection of this data.”

While we can cry all we may, Microsoft has to come clear about what and how it collects data. Going transparent will help perturbed Windows 10 users make an informed choice of whether they want to sign up for this “free” deal or if they would rather stay away from this data gathering mammoth that intends to be on one billion devices worldwide in the next few years. It’s probably time to give the new operating system a break until Microsoft takes some time off scaring Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users with malvertising and gives a complete disclosure to the users who deserve it.

Microsoft Slammed for Trampling User Choice and Privacy with Windows 10

While data collection is inevitable to some degree, users have the right to know if and how they can turn it off and if not, exactly what is being collected from their lives. Here’s to hoping that 2016 brings some sanity and clarity to Microsoft.

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