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Windows 10 still contacts Microsoft even when told to stop

Sleuths digging through the OS find covert calls to HQ, but they don't know what is being said.

Windows 10 privacy sending data to Microsoft after changing privacy settings
Credit: flickr/ToddABishop

There has been considerable concern over the intrusive and spying nature of Windows 10, so much so that multiple apps have been rushed to market to make it easy to turn off all the spying activity. Well, it seems even that doesn't work, as Windows 10 keeps right on poking around in users' systems, according to multiple reports. 

Over at Ars Technica, they found that even with Cortana and searching the Web from the Start menu disabled, Windows still sends a query to bing.com. Some of this was harmless, but as the author put it, it shouldn't be happening.

Other findings were more bothersome. Windows 10 will periodically send data to a Microsoft server named ssw.live.com, which is used for OneDrive and some other Microsoft services, even when OneDrive is disabled and no Microsoft account is being used. 

A more serious accusation, although not as well-sourced as Ars, comes from a Czech website which claims Windows 10 keylogs user activity and even sends file search results back to Microsoft.

"Windows 10 performs the collection of all the texts entered from the keyboard. The texts are stored in the temporary files and 1 x 30 minutes shall be sent to the following servers:

OCA. telemetry nsatc.net. microsoft.com.

pre.footprintpredict.com

reports. wes telemetry.

The transmission is encrypted and should be anonymous."

The English isn't perfect because Bing Translate isn't perfect. But you get the idea. The site is claiming you are being keylogged and that the info is sent to Microsoft every 30 minutes.

Even if you have privacy options disabled, Internet-based services like Cortana, OneDrive, the News and Weather apps in the Start menu, and others still send telemetry data back to Microsoft. Information like what buttons were clicked, where, and how often isn't so bad, but the fact that the machine ID of the system is sent is a little concerning.

Microsoft tracks network use and processor time of specific network-oriented services. The accuracy of this tracking is another matter. Open up the Task Manager, go into full view, then go to the App History tab, and you can see the metrics. On my machine, with two days of uptime, Cortana has used 29.2MB of network traffic even though it is disabled, while the Store app has used 14.7MB even though I never used it. The only app I am using with high traffic is Tweetdeck.

"The Windows 10 operating system is essentially an end terminal more than the operating system, because many of the processes and functions of this system is directly or indirectly dependent on remote servers and databases to Microsoft and Windows 10 is the first operating system from Microsoft, which part of your extended the operating functions of the kernel remotely placed on its servers," the site noted. 

It's an interesting claim that Windows 10 is more of a terminal than an OS, although perhaps a bit exaggerated. All told, Windows services have consumed 35MB of network traffic. Big deal, I'll blow through that loading the front page of Network World.

I've asked Microsoft for comment. So far, no response.

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