Microsoft Admits Windows 10 Spying Cannot Be Disabled


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Last week changes to the Windows 10 upgrade path mean it is going to become increasingly difficult for any non-techy users to avoid being pushed to Microsoft MSFT +0.07%’s new operating system. But given Windows 10 is better than Windows 7 and Windows 8, why would that be a problem? Because of policies like this…

Speaking to PC World, Microsoft Corporate Vice President Joe Belfiore explained that Windows 10 is constantly tracking how it operates and how you are using it and sending that information back to Microsoft by default. More importantly he also confirmed that, despite offering some options to turn elements of tracking off, core data collection simply cannot be stopped:

“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.”

This backs up detailed data that some had chosen to dismiss as conspiracy theories.

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It's a shame we can't employ a trick like the famous "My neighbour thought he was so l33t for stealing my Wi-Fi. Little did he know I was flooding his computers with horse porn" trick

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I hope Microsoft collects so much data that the amount of data generated is not worth the bandwidth and storage costs anymore.

This would explain why they're crippling OneDrive now :tinfoilhat:

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If you truly care about it, you could just use a traffic sniffer to find and then block the addresses.

Ideally using iptables rules on the router, to impact the entire network.

I use dnsmasq entries to employ host-name based filtering of things on my entire network. 

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But given Windows 10 is better than Windows 7 and Windows 8, why would that be a problem?

How is mass surveillance and an annoying start menu that has to be replaced to be usable better Windows 7 exactly? It seems worse not better.

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We have a small medical office (three people), as a customer, that needs to be HIPPA compliant. I plan to upgrade Windows 7 Pro on their machines to Windows 10 Pro and turn on Bitlocker to meet the security requirements. I trust that Microsoft isn't scanning any files, just collecting telemetry, which I will disable as much as possible, along with turning off peer-to-peer Windows Update file sharing and the other odd things included in Windows 10 that aren't useful on a desktop PC. Anyone have facts that prove otherwise? If not, Windows 10 is safe for everyone. 

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Ideally using iptables rules on the router, to impact the entire network.

I use dnsmasq entries to employ host-name based filtering of things on my entire network. 

You shouldn't have to fight your own OS like that though surely?

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Yeah that's not gonna fly very well with hospitals and medical offices who store private patient information on their computers.

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So if we know it's doing it, how can it be called spying?

Because you still don't know what they're collecting. We know the NSA and GHCQ are spying on citizens, does that mean they're technically not spying on us anymore? Either way, it's a gross invasion of privacy and it's only going to get worse.

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If you truly care about it, you could just use a traffic sniffer to find and then block the addresses.


I use this, it uses powershell to uninstall the telemetry service completely, but there are millions of people that don't possess any technological ability that won't know they're being spied on, or if they do they won't know how to correct it. If you opt out, it should be disabled. It's an unacceptable intrusion of privacy, and if this were Google or Apple, Neowin's resident Microsoft legions would lose their collective minds.

How is mass surveillance and an annoying start menu that has to be replaced to be usable better Windows 7 exactly? It seems worse not better.


Uninstall the telemetry services, and install an old style start menu and it's not that bad. The improvements to gaming are worth it. Just install startisback or classic shell, then use the thing I linked to above to remove the spyware services. Just select option I and tell it to remove telemetry. It works well.

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I use this, it uses powershell to uninstall the telemetry service completely, but there are millions of people that don't possess any technological ability that won't know they're being spied on, or if they do they won't know how to correct it. If you opt out, it should be disabled. It's an unacceptable intrusion of privacy, and if this were Google or Apple, Neowin's resident Microsoft legions would lose their collective minds.

Uninstall the telemetry services, and install an old style start menu and it's not that bad. The improvements to gaming are worth it. Just install startisback or classic shell, then use the thing I linked to above to remove the spyware services. Just select option I and tell it to remove telemetry. It works well.

Interesting. What's also interesting is that the Enterprise version allows you to disable all of the data collection services. This shouldn't be restricted to Enterprise only.

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Quite so. I've got no objection to collection of data, but it shouldn't collect the contents of files under any circumstances, and it should be 100% transparent. If the user wants it disabled, it should be disabled.

I've used this script on several installs and it doesn't seem to harm the OS

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It's not the OS you're fighting with, it's your own paranoia. 


Uhm yeah, it's not paranoia when they admit that they're doing it, nor is it paranoia when they don't abide by your decision to opt out.

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I wish people would take a step back and realize the difference between "Windows is Spying on Me" and "Windows sends tiny, anonymous, system level data that helps improve the software so I can stop complaining about crashes".

Seriously, Microsoft does not care one bit what you do on your PC. They are simply getting tiny pieces of data when the OS crashes or such so they can fix bugs.

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I wish people would take a step back and realize the difference between "Windows is Spying on Me" and "Windows sends tiny, anonymous, system level data that helps improve the software so I can stop complaining about crashes".

Seriously, Microsoft does not care one bit what you do on your PC. They are simply getting tiny pieces of data when the OS crashes or such so they can fix bugs.

And how do you know precisely? Have you reverse engineered the code or decoded the data sent?

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I wish people would take a step back and realize the difference between "Windows is Spying on Me" and "Windows sends tiny, anonymous, system level data that helps improve the software so I can stop complaining about crashes".

Seriously, Microsoft does not care one bit what you do on your PC. They are simply getting tiny pieces of data when the OS crashes or such so they can fix bugs.

And if people have nothing to hide, why are they so worried? I could care less what they or the damn NSA see or don't see. I have nothing worth bothering with on my computer anyways.

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Yeah that's not gonna fly very well with hospitals and medical offices who store private patient information on their computers.

telemetry data for the health of the OS isn't relevant to that. 

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I wish people would take a step back and realize the difference between "Windows is Spying on Me" and "Windows sends tiny, anonymous, system level data that helps improve the software so I can stop complaining about crashes".

Seriously, Microsoft does not care one bit what you do on your PC. They are simply getting tiny pieces of data when the OS crashes or such so they can fix bugs.


If it were a simple and honest explanation like that, they wouldn't need the cloak and dagger secrecy, nor would they need to surreptitiously leave it running after the user opts out. Leaving it running after the user opts out is pretty shady.

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And if people have nothing to hide, why are they so worried? I could care less what they or the damn NSA see or don't see. I have nothing worth bothering with on my computer anyways.

That's very 1984 of you. What could possibly go wrong with mass surveillance? :woot:

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