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)
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