Most of our readers probably know about the statement from tinfoil hat enthusiasts that Windows 11 is nothing but spyware, and using Microsoft's latest operating system will result in your data going to the deepest corners of the darknet. Of course, such claims are vastly exaggerated, and you probably should not worry too much about your safety if you keep your system up to date and protected with a reputable antivirus. However, as shown by a recently published YouTube video on The PC Security Channel, Windows 11 indeed sends staggering amounts of data to first and third-party servers. And the worst part is that the OS does that even before you install or open your first application.
The PC Security Channel used the Wireshark app to analyze network activity on two "clean" Windows installations. The first was brand-new Windows 11, and the second was good-old Windows XP (also clean installation). A quick analysis showed Windows 11 connecting to many third-party servers and services, most of which do nothing but ad tracking. And it is worth noting that all that activity happens on every Windows 11 machine out of the box, without asking the customer, and before they even try to use the internet.
Going backward 22 years brings us to Windows XP, which many consider one of the best Windows releases alongside Windows 7. Quick scanning of the more than twenty-year-old operating system showed a much less alarming image. The only server Windows XP contacts out of the box is Windows Update with a simple and easy-to-understand name. No Google servers, MSN, Bing, or shady ad trackers, absolutely nothing.
It is not all black and white, though. Windows 11 has much more capabilities than its two-decade-old relative, and you cannot give users more features without increasing network activity. Still, Windows 11's communications with third-party servers happen without permission the moment you finish installing the OS. Besides, some of the servers and services Windows 11 connects to have absolutely nothing to do with computing—all they do is track and collect your data to sell it to ad providers without improving your PC experience in the slightest (unless you count ads relevance).
When you combine all this with Microsoft's other products that increase their focus on showing
recommended content ads, you get a pretty alarming picture of the company trying to monetize its customers as much as possible. And the "best" part is that Windows 11 is not free—you still have to pay for the operating system and all the data probes that come bundled with it.
Ultimately, we are not trying to make a definitive statement, or call Windows 11 spyware, or tell you to ditch it in favor of Linux. Experiments like the one published on The PC Security Channel are food for thought that helps users better understand the product they use and reflect on its evolution in the modern world.