In a bid to stem the tide of criticism against Windows 10's approach to data collection, Microsoft has come out and published an explanation showing more precisely the kinds of data it collects from users' PCs.
In a post on Microsoft's Technet, the company has outlined specifics about the types of information Windows 10 collects from your system. Windows breaks things up into two general categories: the Basic level, which the OS maker argues "can identify problems that can occur on a particular device hardware of software configuration", and the full set of diagnostics.
Most diagnostic events will collect a header of what Microsoft calls "common data". Here's what that encompasses:
• Information that is added to most diagnostic events, if relevant and available:
• OS name, version, build, and locale
• User ID -- a unique identifier associated with the user's Microsoft Account (if one is used) or local account. The user's Microsoft Account identifier is not collected from devices configured to send Basic diagnostic data
• Xbox UserID
• Environment from which the event was logged -- Application ID of app or component that logged the event, Session GUID. Used to track events over a given period of time such the period an app is running or between boots of the OS.
• The diagnostic event name, Event ID, ETW opcode, version, schema signature, keywords, and flags
• HTTP header information including IP address. This is not the IP address of the device but the source address in the network packet header received by the diagnostics ingestion service.
• Various IDs that are used to correlate and sequence related events together.
• Device ID. This is not the user provided device name, but an ID that is unique for that device.
• Device class -- Desktop, Server, or Mobile
• Event collection time
• Diagnostic level -- Basic or Full, Sample level -- for sampled data, what sample level is this device opted into
The clarity comes ahead of the full launch of the Windows 10 Creators Update next week, which you can download early via this link from the Microsoft website. In a separate blog post, Microsoft added that they had "reduced the number of events collected and reduced" at the Basic diagnostics level by approximately half.
That same post added that Windows 10 would be clarifying its descriptions and options around privacy settings, giving users the option to disable speech recognition (bye Cortana), location services, targeted ads, "tailored experiences" and whether to enable only a Basic or Full level of diagnostics.
For those going through a clean installation of Windows 10 post-Creators Update, here's what you'll see during the setup process:
The options and new descriptions will be rolled out to Windows 10 Mobile as well, for those still wedded to that system. Microsoft added that they will also including the data picked up by Cortana to the Microsoft Privacy Dashboard, an online tool that lets you review and delete information that Windows 10 has attached to your Microsoft account in the cloud.