I know that many of you may have read stuff about Windows 10’s telemetry and that Microsoft is using it to spy on their users. Every little thing that you do on your Windows machine is being tracked, collected, and sent to Microsoft. Every keystroke, every mouse movement, every word you say to Cortana is being sent to Microsoft for God knows what reason. And for all we know, Microsoft may be sending this information to government agencies around the world in their misguided attempts to protect us from “terrorism”.
We live in a world in which we can’t trust our governments to not be snooping on everything we do from sending an email or SMS message to talking on the phone. With that being said, Yahoo! was found snooping on everyone’s email and sending it straight to the US government’s spying agencies. How do we know that Microsoft isn’t doing the same thing and sending all of this telemetry that they’re collecting with Windows 10 straight to the US government? That’s right, we don’t.
I’m not saying that Microsoft is doing all of this but I’m also not saying that Microsoft isn’t doing all of this. Why? Because we don’t know. We don’t know what is being sent to Microsoft. Really! We don’t. The data is encrypted and we don’t know how to decrypt it to be able to find out what’s actually contained in said telemetry. So with that being said… call me a tin foil hat wearing nut job if you wish, because we don’t know we have to assume something is up. We have to assume that Microsoft is up to no good and that they’re spying on all of us.
The fact that you can’t turn the telemetry off in consumer versions of Windows 10 is even more worrisome. There’s no switch in Windows 10 that simply turns it all off. All we can do is either set the telemetry to Basic, Enhanced, or Full; there’s no “Off” switch.
A lot of the outrage regarding Windows 10 comes from the fact that we can’t turn the telemetry off, they’ve removed the choice to be able to do so. That right there folks is the major reason why myself and others like me have been so critical of Microsoft as of late. We can’t turn the telemetry off! Now had Microsoft given us the choice to be able to turn it off (if we so choose to do so) there wouldn’t be nearly the amount of hatred being flung Microsoft’s way concerning Windows 10. But again, there’s no “off switch”.
And for those people who are still running an earlier version of Windows such as Windows 7 to avoid this kind of telemetry collection, you aren’t safe from the telemetry either. Microsoft has been updating the telemetry components in Windows 7 and 8.1 to collect similar amounts of telemetry. And for those people who think that they’ll just avoid certain updates, you’re not safe either since Microsoft will be pushing cumulative updates to Windows 7 and 8.1 users just like Windows 10 receives. How do we know that Microsoft won’t slip additional telemetry updates into the cumulative updates for Windows 7 and 8.1? That’s right, we won’t know.
Microsoft… give us the choice, that’s all we ask for. If we don’t want our data going to you, that’s our business, that’s our choice. But in Windows 10 we don’t have that choice and that’s where it all begins… the removal of a choice. If Microsoft wants to rebuild their user’s trust and gain back some of the good will that they’ve shred over the last two years, they need to do the following three things. First and foremost, give the option to the users to be able to turn off the telemetry and not just make it available as a Registry hack; no, they need to release an easy to use tool to disable it. And second, come clean on what exactly is being collected and whether or not they’re sending this data to the governments of the world.