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Microsoft's Windows chief Myerson falls short of addressing Windows 10 spying concerns

Myerson says you are in control of what information Windows gathers on you.

Microsoft Windows 10 privacy spying Terry Myerson

After a month of stern accusations, including one from yours truly, the chief of Microsoft's Windows group addressed user concerns over privacy and information gathering in a blog post.

Since its launch two months ago, Windows 10 has been dogged by a number of privacy concerns, ranging from machine IDs to keylogging to spying on your Cortana queries. Windows 7 and 8 were also drawn into the controversy, as Microsoft back-ported some of its telemetry gathering functions to the older operating systems, and the company was also found to be downloading the multigigabyte installation files to Windows 7 and Windows 8 machines without user permission.

Microsoft had a lot to answer for, and unfortunately, Terry Myerson did not address all of the issues. He said Windows 10 was designed with two privacy principals in mind: it collects information so the product will work better, and users are in control with the ability to determine what information is collected.

Myerson says that some information that is sent back to Microsoft, like the anonymous device ID, device type, and application crash data, is shared with developer partners for the purpose of improving Windows 10 reliability across the board. And really, Windows has been doing that since XP, so why get bent out of shape over it now? 

He added that no personally identifiable information is gathered, and that the sharing of information allows Microsoft to deliver software and driver fixes to Windows Insiders for further testing within 24 hours.

Myerson also addressed concerns that Cortana sends too much information back to Microsoft when doing user queries by not addressing the issue directly. Instead, he basically said that you can shut it off if you don't like it. 

"Features like Cortana which require more personal information to deliver the full experience, you are asked if you want to turn them on and are given additional privacy customization options," he wrote.

Finally, he spoke on the issue of collecting info from email for targeted advertising, and basically said it does not happen and threw in a dig at Google in the process. "Unlike some other platforms, no matter what privacy options you choose, neither Windows 10 nor any other Microsoft software scans the content of your email or other communications, or your files, in order to deliver targeted advertising to you," he wrote.

But he said nothing on the other issues, like downloading three gigabytes of Windows 10 install code onto user PCs without their knowledge, or back-porting the Windows 10 information gathering to Windows 7 and 8 and installing it without telling users. Then there was this gem from the EULA:

We will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary to.

It's a start and a decent one, but Myerson has more explaining to do. Obviously it's not too big of an issue, because one analyst believes Windows 10 has passed the 100 million installations mark.

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