Since the launch of Windows 10 on July 29th 2015, one major concern has been on everyone’s mind; privacy. Windows 10 privacy takes a whole new twist since users can now login via their Microsoft account.
Logging in with an Outlook/Live account, allows Microsoft to track your searches, location, websites you visit and more. This leads to a major debate – should you opt for simplicity and let Microsoft track your every move, or should you retain your privacy and miss out on some pretty cool features?
Benefits of Using a Microsoft Account on Windows 10
There are many benefits involved with using a Microsoft account on Windows 10. Lets take a look at some of the main benefits when logging in with your Outlook/Live account.
- Cortana: Microsoft’s intelligent personal assistant called Cortana is only available when logging in with a Microsoft account.
- Fully Synchronized: When using a Microsoft account, you will be able to synchronize all of your Microsoft devices.
- Windows Store: With a Microsoft account, you will be able to download and install apps from the Windows Store.
- OneDrive: Users who sign in with a Microsoft account also have access to OneDrive, which makes it easy for you to store files, photos, videos and more in a cloud-based area.
Benefits of Using a Local Account on Windows 10
Local accounts help ensure your privacy and prevent Microsoft from being able to track your every move. Lets take a look at some of the main benefits of using a local account on Windows 10.
- Privacy: Without a live connection to Microsoft, they will be unable to track your searches, visited websites, location and more.
- Basic Apps: All of the basic apps that are included in Windows 10 are still accessible with a local account.
- Features Remain Usable: Even if you log into your computer using a local account, you will still be able to log into the Windows Store and other live features with an existing Microsoft account.
- A unique adverting ID is created for each Windows 10 user.
- Microsoft can track everything you type.
- They can locate your computer at any time.
- Settings are automatically synched when signing in with a Microsoft account.
What Microsoft Does With Your Data
Microsoft tracks your data in order to provide you with better features. For instance, knowing your precise location allows them to provide you with better suggestions on nearby restaurants, stores and many other great things.
Microsoft can provide you with better tailored apps and they can setup your settings with more accuracy. The reason they collect data is to provide users with the best possible experience.
Bing is another huge reason why they collect data. Bing is Microsoft’s massive search engine and with more information about its users, it can provide a higher quality search engine worthy of competing with Google.
Disabling Windows 10 User Tracking
There are a few things you can do in order to turn off user tracking on Windows 10. There is a great article at PC World on how to regain your privacy in Windows 10. Here are some of the privacy options that you will learn how to modify in this article:
- Turn off personalized ads when surfing the web.
- How to turn off Cortana, the built-in digital assistant.
- Turning off Wi-Fi Sense & P2P Updates.
- Disabling OneDrive at Windows start-up.
- Turning off location tracking.
- Turn off Microsoft Edge cookies & tracking.
Many additional privacy settings can be turned off, making it easier for you to surf the web and use your computer in complete safety. Best of all, you can choose to only turn off the ones that you don’t need or want. This allows you to continue using the features that you do enjoy having.
Overview of Windows Privacy Settings
With so many different privacy settings to choose from, it can get rather confusing at times. Here is a brief overview of the main privacy settings:
- General Privacy Settings: This is where you can choose to view personalized ads, send the URLs you visit to Microsoft, provide them with information about how you type and let websites know which language you prefer.
- Location Settings: This is where you can decide whether or not you want Microsoft to know your location.
- Cortana: Cortana can be turned off by simply typing in the search bar in the start menu. A little notebook icon will appear once you start typing; click on it and choose “settings”.
- Speech, Inking & Typing: This is where the “Getting to Know You” feature can be turned off. You will also be able to turn off “Cloud Info” in this area, which stores your information in a cloud-based area.
- Accounts: In the Accounts settings area, you will be able to change how your Microsoft devices synchronize with one another. This is also where you can modify sign-in options.
- Feedback & Diagnostics: This settings area will allow you to choose how often feedback is sent to Microsoft. You can choose to never send feedback to Microsoft if you don’t feel like being bothered with surveys. This is also where you can edit the amount of diagnostics and usage data that Microsoft receives from your computer.
There are numerous settings and going through each one manually can take a long time. For that reason, we recommend using an automatic Windows privacy tool.
Automatic Windows Tracking Removal
There are many automatic Windows tracking removal tools that can automate the process for you. This article on GHacks shares the best automatic privacy tools. All of these software tools automate the process, allowing you to quickly regain control of your freedom.
Among all of the automatic privacy tools that we tested, we found Ashampoo Antispy to be the best one available. You can rapidly turn each setting on or off with the click of a button. Ashampoo Antispy can prevent Windows 10 from sending diagnostics and usage data. It can also create backups, allowing you to restore settings in case something goes wrong.
Ashampoo Antispy is available in multiple languages and has a beautiful design layout that allows for great simplicity of use. Many different privacy categories are available to choose from and each category has multiple settings. They make it as simple as clicking an on/off button to modify each setting and explanations are provided so you can understand what each setting does.
Microsoft Still Gathers Data
Even with all tracking settings disabled and the usage of privacy tools like Ashampoo Antispy, Microsoft will continue gathering basic information. You can never be truly private when using your computer, as mentioned in this article by ARS Technica. Windows 10 will continue speaking to Microsoft and delivering personal details about your computer usage and online browsing tendencies.
One example of how Microsoft still gathers information is when you type something in the search bar from the Start menu. This sends information to Bing, which automatically returns the data to Microsoft. While the information is harmless, it still gets transferred to Microsoft regardless of whether or not you choose to remain private.
In the end, Microsoft will gather the information it needs no matter how many settings you disable. Using Ashampoo Antispy is certainly going to limit the amount of information they receive, but they will still get some details about your internet usage. It’s important to remember that Microsoft gathers this data to provide its users with the best possible experience at all times.
Using this data, Microsoft provides you with a seamless experience, allowing you to easily share photos, files, videos and more between your devices. You can get tailored apps, settings and even ads shown according to your specific preferences.
Keep in mind that many other major platforms also gather your information such as Facebook, Google, Twitter and many others. We don’t hesitate to provide them with all of our personal information and it only provides us with a more user-friendly environment. Windows is doing the same by gathering your usage data; they want to provide you with an awesome experience that will only make you enjoy using Windows 10 that much more.
There is no reason to fear having your personal information compromised. You are not giving this information to hackers who will use it to steal your bank account details or message your family members; you are giving it to Microsoft, who will use it to better your user experience.