As we’ve said before, beware of tech companies bearing ‘free’ gifts. If something is free and offered to you by a big tech company, it’s likely not the product: Your personal data is.
When Microsoft announced last month that Windows 10, the latest version of its flagship computer operating system, was going to be offered as a free upgrade, users around the world rejoiced while analysts questioned how the company would make money from the new business model.
It appears the answer to the second question is becoming more clear, as online commenters posted an image of the latest preview build of Windows 10 that appeared to show the software will, by default, collect and transmit your browsing history back to Microsoft for unspecified-yet-likely commercial purposes. The image was shown with the option turned off, after the user had disabled the data sharing.
The broad disclosure asks users to consent to “send your browser history to Microsoft,” in order to offer predictive search and “make … the overall experience better.”
While Microsoft has long been technically able to see this type of data thanks to backdoors and licensing systems built into its software the latest disclosure marks a change of course, keeping to other such changes by new CEO Satya Nadella.
The lack of transparent disclosure raises privacy concerns as its unclear exactly what your data will be used for, where it will be stored and for how long.
Microsoft thus far has not commented on the new policy, particularly having such sharing enabled by default.