Microsoft Shares Telemetry Data Details As Release of Creators Update Approaches

Microsoft Shares Telemetry Data Details As Release of Creators Update Approaches

The biggest concern that has hindered many potential users from upgrading to Windows 10 is their worries over privacy and the information collected by the systems always on telemetry options.

After two major feature updates and the operating system being available for over 20 months, a few months ago Microsoft started making an increased effort to be clearer about the companies privacy policy. Their initial effort included a revised privacy policy and a new Privacy Dashboard that gives users control of the data being collected by Microsoft through their various software and services including the ability to remove that data.

Fast forward a couple of months and we learn that Microsoft has revamped the Windows 10 Creators Update Out of the Box Experience (OOBE) to put more privacy options front and center during a clean install or upgrade to this feature update.

Today, on the same day that the Creators Update will be made available to advanced users early, we are hearing about even more clarity when it comes to privacy around Windows 10 and the Creators Update.

Over on the Windows Experience blog a new article by Microsoft's Terry Myerson, EVP of the Windows and Devices Group (WDG), and Marisa Rodgers, the WDG Privacy Officer, lay out even more detail about privacy and what data is collected through the operating systems telemetry process.

Myerson begins by laying out three areas that they have made significant changes to privacy:

1. We are improving in-product information about your privacy. With both short descriptions about each privacy setting and a “Learn More” button, we are committed to making information about your privacy choices easy to access and understand.

2. We are updating the Microsoft privacy statement to include more information about the privacy enhancements in the Creators Update; as well as share more detail about the data we collect and use to support new features offered in this update. Like previous privacy statement updates, we will make this information available to you in a layered manner online, allowing you to progressively explore more information about your privacy choices with Windows 10. We have also summarized the key changes in Change History for Microsoft Privacy Statement.

3. We are publishing more information about the data we collect. Our commitment to you is that we only collect data at the Basic level that is necessary to keep your Windows 10 device secure and up to date. For customers who choose the Full level, we use diagnostic data to improve Windows 10 for everyone and deliver more personalized experiences for you where you choose to let us do so. Our hope is this information will help you be more informed about the data we collect and use, enabling you to make informed choices.

If you have been following our hands on galleries in the last several builds of the Windows 10 Creators Update received by Windows Insiders then you have seen the evidence of more verbose explanations and links to additional data scattered throughout the OS and more specifically in the Windows Settings app. We also shared an OOBE video that shows the additional privacy questions which expands the defaults that were present in past updates. This new set of privacy setup questions, which are detailed by Rodgers in this Windows Experience blog post, will now be presented not only during clean installs but after the update is installed on an existing system. In the past that was not the default behavior.

The big piece of news related to privacy in this article by Myerson and Rodgers is actually details about what elements of data are collected based on the users telemetry choices.

According to Myerson, this is the first time the Redmond company has ever revealed this information publicly for their telemetry collection on both Basic and Full settings.

Here are some of the broad areas data is collected for under the Basic setting. You can visit the the full Windows 10, version 1703 basic level Windows diagnostic events and fields article on the Windows IT Center.

-- Common Data Extensions
-- Common Data Fields
-- Appraiser Events
-- Census Events
-- Diagnostic Data Events
-- DxgKernelTelemetry Events
-- Fault Reporting Events
-- Hang Reporting Events
-- Inventory Events
-- OneDrive Events
-- Setup Events
-- Shared PC Events
-- Software Update Events
-- Update Events
-- Upgrade Events
-- Windows Error Reporting Events
-- Windows Store Events
-- Windows Update Delivery Optimization Events
-- Windows Update Events
-- Winlogon Events

When telemetry is being collected on the Full setting, the additional categories of data are collected in addition to the Basic information listed above. You can also read the full Windows 10, version 1703 Diagnostic Data article on the Windows IT Center to see the full details in each category.

-- Common Data (diagnostic header information)
-- Device, Connectivity, and Configuration Data
-- Product and Service Usage Data
-- Product and Service Performance Data
-- Software Setup and Inventory Data
-- Content Consumption Data
-- Browsing, Search and Query Data
-- Inking, Typing, and Speech Utterance Data
-- Licensing and Purchase Data

As you dive into these two pages of information take note that Myerson states that this is about half of the data they collected previously at the Basic telemetry level. There is no doubt it still seems like a lot of information but when you consider how complex an operating system like Windows 10 is then it makes sense that it takes a lot of data to understand what is happening at the system level for the purposes of performing diagnostic assessment.

I am also sure that this new transparency about privacy, data, and how it is used will still not be enough for some people. Lifecycle support for Windows 7, Microsoft's most popular OS right now, expires in less than three years so a decision will have to be made to move forward in some way to a supported operating system.

So let me ask you - our readers - what additional privacy related actions could Microsoft take that would encourage you to make the migration from your current OS to Windows 10?


But, wait...there's probably more so be sure to follow me on Twitter and Google+.

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