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Windows 10 constantly calls home – a lot. Back in August, Ars Technica reported on a list of features in Microsoft Windows 10 that raise concerns for the privacy conscious. Windows 10 continually monitors and collects data on usage and operation of the system and reports back to Microsoft.
The features, it has now been confirmed, cannot be turned off. Speaking to PC World, Microsoft Corporate Vice President Joe Belfiore elaborated on the program. Windows 10 is set by default to track how you are using it and to send the information back to Microsoft. Most importantly, he admitted that some of the tracking features cannot be turned off:
“In the cases where we’ve not provided options, we feel that those things have to do with the health of the system,” he said. “In the case of knowing that our system that we’ve created is crashing, or is having serious performance problems, we view that as so helpful to the ecosystem and so not an issue of personal privacy, that today we collect that data so that we make that experience better for everyone.”
Windows 10 Home is set to monitor and control bandwidth usage, install any and all software without prompting the user, display ads in the Start Menu, send reports on hardware and any changes made, and even log browsing history and keystrokes.
Notably, this policy applies only to home users. Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise users can permanently disable automatic updates, and the above listed monitoring.
Even if Microsoft’s aims are completely benign – keeping in mind Microsoft’s cooperation with the NSA this seems far from a foregone conclusion – the potential for more nefarious attackers to exploit these unpluggable hole should worry all.