Microsoft has tried to clear up some recent confusion around Windows 10 data collection, promising a change to the way it names features to make it easier for users to understand what data is being gathered.
The company angered some Windows 10 users who thought their devices were beaming data about recently opened apps and websites to Microsoft, even though they'd never consented to it.
Users have an option in Activity History -- an enabler for the Windows 10 feature Timeline -- to 'send my activity history to Microsoft'. Checking the box enables cross-device continuity, which relies on sending data about recently used sites and apps to Microsoft's cloud.
But users on Reddit discovered that leaving the box unchecked results in recently opened websites and apps appearing in Microsoft's Privacy Dashboard under Activity History.
Marisa Rogers, Microsoft privacy officer for the Windows Devices Group, said the company does respect customer privacy.
"In this case, the same term 'Activity History' is used in both Windows 10 and the Microsoft Privacy Dashboard. Windows 10 Activity History data is only a subset of the data displayed in the Microsoft Privacy Dashboard," said Rogers in a statement to ZDNet.
The complete set of data of which Windows 10 Activity History data is a subset is the Windows 10 diagnostics data sharing, which by default is set to "Full" and means devices provide Microsoft with, among other things, their data about recently used apps and websites.
As How-To-Geek suggested about the issue, what's displayed in the Privacy Dashboard isn't non-approved Timeline Activity History data, but rather data shared from devices where the default diagnostics sharing setting hasn't been changed from "Full" to the more limited "Basic".
SEE: 20 pro tips to make Windows 10 work the way you want (free PDF)
Rogers said Microsoft is working on a fix for this "naming issue" in a future update.
It would be nice to see Microsoft change the default diagnostic data sharing to "Basic", too. Until that changes, anyone concerned about telling Microsoft what websites and apps they've been using will have to manually change it.
Microsoft's statement did outline the steps to disable data sharing for both Windows 10 Timeline and diagnostics.
If a customer wants to prevent their Windows 10 device from sending apps and service Activity History to Microsoft, they need to use the following two Windows Settings configurations:
1. Under Settings->Privacy->Activity history: ensure the setting "Let Windows sync my activities from this PC to the cloud" is not checked (learn more here)
2. Under Settings->Privacy->Diagnostics & feedback: ensure Diagnostic data is set to Basic (learn more here)
PREVIOUS AND RELATED COVERAGE
Windows 10 update fixes bug triggering blue screens on Surface Book 2
Tuesday's Windows 10 cumulative update fixes bug that annoyed owners of the flagship Surface Book 2.
After Windows 10's buggy patches, Microsoft talks up its 'high-quality' fixes
Microsoft promises its software updates will improve next year.
For the fourth month in a row, Microsoft patches Windows zero-day used in the wild
Microsoft also fixes 38 other security bugs, 9 of which are rated "Critical."
Is Windows 10 still telling Microsoft what you're doing even if you don't want it to?
Microsoft baffles Windows 10 users by apparently collecting data about recently opened websites and apps when users have opted against sharing that information.
Windows 10: Microsoft pulls patch that gives Surface Book 2 Blue Screen of Death
Having first blocked it for Surface Book 2 users, Microsoft now removes buggy patch completely.
Windows 10 blue screen: Microsoft blocks buggy 1803 update to Surface Book 2s
The buggy update was your choice to install, Microsoft tells owners of its $3,000 flagship Surface device.
Windows 10 BSOD: Pricey Surface Book 2s bricked by latest 1803 update
Sleuthing Surface Book 2 owners figure out Microsoft's latest Windows 10 update is to blame for Blue Screen of Death woes.
Microsoft lifts Windows 10 1809 block after Apple fixes iCloud for Windows
Microsoft unblocks the Windows 10 October 2018 Update for one group, but several other blocks remain in place.
Microsoft: Crash-causing Outlook 2010 security patches are now fixed
Microsoft's new Outlook 2010 update ought to provide the critical security fixes without the crashes.
Windows 10 1809's new rollout: Mapped drives broken, AMD issues, Trend Micro clash
Steer clear of the rereleased Windows 10 October 2018 Update, IT pro warns. Meanwhile, Microsoft promises fix for buggy mapped drives at some point next year.
Windows 10 activation bug baffles, angers users
Mystery bug is telling Windows 10 users that their legitimate license is no longer activated. Microsoft is working on a fix.
Windows 10 October 2018 Update: 5 new features business users will loveTechRepublic
Windows 10 is getting a big update in its next release. Here are some of the enterprise-centered features to expect in the Windows 10 October 2018 Update.
Surface Pro 6, Surface Laptop 2, Surface Studio 2 and Surface Headphones: Everything Microsoft just announced CNET
Plus: Windows 10 October 2018 Update is now available.