Microsoft’s recent release of their new operating system, Windows 10, ushers in a new era. The new OS so far has had decent reviews, but there are a few things you should know about from a privacy standpoint. The OS is free if you have Windows 7 or 8, making it a definite break from the past. The key here is, everything has a cost. Since Microsoft is not altruistic, money has to be made in some way. There is an adage that says “If a product is free, you are the product”. That does not necessarily mean you will be poorly treated, or you deserve such, but you should be aware of what the policies are at very least, so you can change the settings or at least make an educated decision.
These are some of the ways that Microsoft acquires data, and some of these are on by default.
- Data Syncing by Default – This means that your browser history and/or any activity you do will automatically be stored to Microsoft servers.
- Cortana – Personal assistant that can be activated. Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri. This assistant will take info from calenders, emails, text messages, who you call, Bing search data and more.
- Microsoft is watching you – It also takes data from where you are, and gathers information on the networks you use.
- They will share or access your data when they feel like it.
- Your encryption key is backed up to OneDrive.
There are other items as well, but you may check out the specifics here, with the Microsoft Privacy Statement and Microsoft Services Agreement and decide for yourself if concern is warranted. We realize that Microsoft is not the only company to do these sorts of things, but for some reason, this feels really invasive. In reality, it is pretty close to other terms of service by other companies. If you are concerned about privacy, be sure to turn off some of these features, or don’t activate them.
In conclusion, Microsoft has re-worked their privacy and service agreement for the new operating system. The policy has changed from previous software releases. I suggest you read over their new policy and some of the related articles available online. When George Orwell published the book 1984 in 1949, the nightmarish conditions of government surveillance seemed far fetched. We will let you decide if Microsoft fills that role instead.