Microsoft Outlines Fall Creators Update Privacy Improvements

Microsoft revealed several privacy improvements arriving with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update in October. Soon you'll be given more information about how the company gathers data and offered more control over the information that apps can access. Enterprise customers will also be given the option to restrict data sharing to the minimum required for Windows Analytics, the company's business-focused diagnostics service.

These updates build on the changes made with the Windows 10 Creators Update. That release made it clearer how much information Microsoft can gather from your device, minimized data collection, and required users to affirm their privacy settings when they installed the update. (Provided, of course, that they waited for the official rollout instead of manually installing the update.) All of these changes were a good start.

But it seems Microsoft didn't think it did enough to ease its customers' concerns about their privacy. In a blog post, the company outlined several improvements planned for the Fall Creators Update, which is set to debut on October 17. Perhaps the most pertinent will be easier access to information about how Microsoft gathers information, what data is collected, and how it might be used. The company explained:

First, we are giving users direct access to the Privacy Statement within the setup process. Second, as you set up a new device, the Learn More page on the privacy settings screen enables you to jump to specific settings for location, speech recognition, diagnostics, tailored experiences, and ads while you choose your privacy settings. You no longer need to sift through the privacy statement if you only want to read about a specific feature, simply click the Learn More button for easy access.

Another update—the ability to choose information Windows Store apps have access to—should be familiar to anyone who owns a smartphone. Android and iOS both offer granular controls regarding an app's ability to access your contacts, photos, and other information. Windows 10 previously restricted those controls to your location, but the Fall Creators Update will expand those capabilities to other data.

Microsoft didn't list all of the settings arriving with this update, but it did say that you'll be able to control access to "key device capabilities or information such as your camera, microphone, contacts, and calendar, among others." The company also noted that this change will affect only Windows Store apps that are installed after you upgrade to the Fall Creators Update; previous installations won't show these privacy setting prompts.

Finally, the company said "our Enterprise customers asked us to provide them with greater control over which data is shared with us to enable new services," so it's introducing a new setting that "limits diagnostic data to the minimum required for Windows Analytics." That should be welcome news to privacy-conscious businesses, although the inability to stop all data collection will still put some sensitive information at risk.

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