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Microsoft gives in, makes Recall an opt-in feature and introduces new privacy measures

The Recall feature in Windows 11

Microsoft has finally broken its radio silence and published a blog post about Recall, the highly controversial feature that was announced a few weeks ago. Following some pretty shocking discoveries made by security experts and calls to recall Recall (sorry), Microsoft is adjusting its course to offer more transparency and security to customers.

For starters, Recall is now a clear opt-in feature. During the onboarding experience (the initial setup or OOBE), Windows 11 will ask whether you want Recall on or off. The best part is there are seemingly no tricky words or caveats: just two plain buttons with “No” and “Yes.” This should ensure there will be no customers unaware of their PCs screenshotting almost everything that is happening on their screens.

The description also makes it clear that Windows will be taking snapshots of your screen every few seconds. Again, for transparency and clear understanding.

The Recall UI during the initial Windows 11 setup

Next, Windows 11 will require Windows Hello authentication to enable Recall and review your timeline.

Finally, there will be additional protection mechanisms to prevent someone from sniffing your entire Recall database. Windows 11 will use just-in-time encryption, ensuring snapshots and the search index database are decrypted only after you authenticate with Windows Hello and its enhanced security measures.

In line with Microsoft’s SFI principles, before the preview release of Recall to customers, we are taking steps to increase data protection. Copilot+ PCs will launch with “just in time” decryption protected by Windows Hello Enhanced Sign-in Security (ESS), so Recall snapshots will only be decrypted and accessible when the user authenticates. This gives an additional layer of protection to Recall data in addition to other default enabled Window Security features like SmartScreen and Defender which use advanced AI techniques to help prevent malware from accessing data like Recall.

Microsoft also reminded customers about the existing privacy measures it implemented, such as storing snapshots locally and not sharing them with anybody (even with Microsoft), notifying the user when Windows 11 takes a snapshot, DRM and InPrivate support, the ability to filter, pause, and delete what was saved, and more.

You can find more about the latest changes in the official blog post.

Do you think these changes are enough to regain the lost trust in Recall? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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