Microsoft is just reading Google’s playbook on destroying your privacy, but that does not mean that you have to drink the entire glass of that Kool-Aid. Here are a couple of things that you can do on Windows 10 to dial back the information theft a little bit.
First of all, what does Microsoft tell you they are going to do? They say, in their privacy statement, that they use your information to operate their business, send you communications and display advertising. That covers a pretty wide part of your online universe.
Step 1 – reduce the amount of general data Microsoft gets from you:
In Settings, click on Privacy. In the privacy settings you can control stuff like how your computer uses your information like warning you that you are passing a Starbucks. Also, while you are there, go to Feedback and Diagnostics, set the feedback frequency to never and diagnostics to basic. This reduces the amount of information you send to Microsoft.
Step 2: The Edge Browser
Microsoft wants to “help” you so they have integrated Cortana (their version of Siri) into the Edge browser. In order to make Cortana seem smart, they send your browsing history to Microsoft. If this doesn’t seem like a good idea, maybe not using Edge is a better idea – after all, there are other browsers. However, you can turn off this piece of big brother. Go to the ellipsis button in the top right corner, then settings, advanced settings, view advanced settings and privacy and settings. Turn off have Cortana assist me in Microsoft Edge. Given how deeply you have to look to find this, do you think, maybe, they don’t really want you to turn this off?
Step 3: DO NOT create a Microsoft Account
When you install Windows 10, Microsoft certainly leads you to believe that you MUST create a Microsoft account to log in to Windows 10. This is not the case. They made this the default for two reasons. The first is to be able to track your every action. If you have a Microsoft account, they can correlate this data much better – across devices and platforms. The second is so that they can store all your settings. I am sure that this is solely to help you in case a crazed muskrat eats your computer (and, in truth, this is no different that what Apple and Google do by default with your phone), but if you care about your privacy, don’t do it.
Step 4: Beware of Cortana
While Cortana, like Siri, is cool, the way both of these tools work is by collecting as much data as they possibly can about you – location, contacts, even speech and handwriting data. Unfortunately, with both of these products, if you don’t want to be part of that, your only answer is not to use it. Of course, Microsoft stores all this data in the cloud. I am sure that they will only use it to “personalize your experience”.
Welcome to the Brave New World. 1984 has nothing on us.
Information for this post came from Information Week.