One of the biggest complaints about Windows 10 is the operating system's questionable approach to privacy, but Microsoft aims to give users greater control over their data through a newly launched privacy dashboard.
The tool is web-based, meaning it can be accessed anywhere using your Microsoft account. It lets you see and control (i.e. clear) information such as Bing search history, Edge browsing history, location data, and Cortana Notebook data, which the virtual assistant uses for its personalized results and suggests.
You can head on over to account.microsoft.com/privacy and log in to your Microsoft account to see what data the Redmond company holds on you. Microsoft said it would be adding more functionality and categories of data over time, but didn’t offer anything more specific.
Additionally, Microsoft announced that it would revamp the privacy options in the Windows 10 Creators Update, which is due for release this April. A new setup experience will replace the current Express Settings option found in the OS. It varies depending on what version of Windows you’re using and whether or not it’s a fresh install. The menu consists of a series of toggles that are enabled by default, and show what impact each change will have on the Windows experience.
Microsoft is also streamlining its data collection options from three levels to two - Basic and Full – eliminating the intermediary “Enhanced” option, leaving you with the choice of all or nothing, it seems. Moreover, the Basic level now collects even less data than before, logging only that which “is vital to the operation of Windows,” according to Microsoft.
“We use this data to help keep Windows and apps secure, up-to-date, and running properly when you let Microsoft know the capabilities of your device, what is installed, and whether Windows is operating correctly,” wrote Terry Myerson, Executive Vice President of the Windows and Devices Group. “This option also includes basic error reporting back to Microsoft.”
It’s taken more than a year for Microsoft to address Windows 10’s privacy issues, but the changes will hopefully fix one of the worst elements of the OS. The system is coming to Windows Insider builds soon, before rolling out to everyone else in a few months time when the Creators Update becomes available.