Windows 10 sends identifiable data to Microsoft despite privacy settings

Microsoft Sign

Windows 10 sends identifiable information to Microsoft, even if a user turns off its Bing search and Cortana features, and activates the software’s privacy-protection settings.

Analysis by technology site Ars Technica has shown that Windows 10 still contacts Microsoft even when these features are disabled, although some of this is simple and non-identifiable testing for an internet connection.

However, other bits of information sent to and requested from Microsoft, including those associated with the company’s cloud storage service, OneDrive, and to an unknown content delivery network, have a user identification number attached.

The machines used for the test were using a local login to Windows 10, not a Microsoft account, and had OneDrive, Cortana, live tiles and every other privacy-protecting setting active.

Windows 10 also downloaded new tile information from its MSN news and information service, despite the live-tile feature not being active on the test machine. The request had no identifiable information, but was also not encrypted.

Privacy worries

The report will add more fuel to the debate about Windows 10 and privacy, after Microsoft came under fire for the default settings in its new operating system.

“As part of delivering Windows 10 as a service, updates may be delivered to provide ongoing new features to Bing search, such as new visual layouts, styles and search code,” said Microsoft, in response to Ars Technica’s report.

“No query or search usage data is sent to Microsoft, in accordance with the customer’s chosen privacy settings. This also applies to searching offline for items such as apps, files and settings on the device.”

However, the information sent to and requested from Microsoft after customers activated privacy-protecting settings, was not related to search.

Microsoft did not elaborate on what purpose the communications have, or whether it stores or tracks the data, which includes machine identification numbers. The company has not responded to requests for further comment.

Microsoft also released an update to fix a problem with one of its mandatory Windows 10 updates, which should prevent the endless install failure and rebooting issues that users had been suffering from, according to the company.

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Powered by article was written by Samuel Gibbs, for on Thursday 13th August 2015 11.48 Europe/ © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010