I just got this question in my inbox:
Hello IT Nerd. I am sure you’ve seen the recent media coverage about the Windows 10 technical preview and how it collects all sorts of data. My question is, should I be worried about that?
Thank you for the question. What this reader is talking about is the fact that the technical preview of Windows 10 says this in their privacy statement:
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. 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. For example, when you:
- install the Program, we may collect information about your device and applications and use it for purposes such as determining or improving compatibility,
- use voice input features like speech-to-text, we may collect voice information and use it for purposes such as improving speech processing,
- open a file, we may collect information about the file, the application used to open the file, and how long it takes any use it for purposes such as improving performance, or
- enter text, we may collect typed characters and use them for purposes such as improving autocomplete and spellcheck features.
That predictably sent the Internet into a tizzy as evidenced by this Inquirer article. So back to the question. Should you be worried? The answer is that it depends. If you’re using pre-release software for any reason, you should fully expect something like this as the whole point of a technical release is for companies to gather info on how you use the software prior to release. Normally that’s through your feedback, but it’s sometimes done via methods like this. Plus, you should never, ever be using pre-release software on a computer that has access to sensitive info or on a computer that you rely on. Thus if this software is on a separate computer that is isolated on your network (which is what the people who are testing this stuff for corporations do…. Or at least should be doing), then go nuts. Use it all you want. But if you’ve put this software on a computer that is part of a part of your production network, then you might want to worry. If anything bad happens, you’re the one who’s going to be responsible as you made that call. Not Microsoft.
Another thing to point out is that features like the voice input feature has to send data back to Microsoft to work at all. Android (Google Now) and iOS (Siri) do that and I don’t hear any complaints.
The bottom line is that this is much ado about nothing as far as I am concerned. As a result, there’s nothing to see here. Move along.