Monday, 3 August 2015

What You Must Know Before Upgrading To Windows 10

Microsoft claims "No worries", but a few things about its latest upgrade worries me.
This came up in my General Paper (GP) tuition session with a student earlier today, when we were discussing the topic of privacy.

If you're considering whether to get the FREE upgrade to Microsoft, you might want to first read about what you're potentially getting yourself into.

1. Features that could be considered invasions of your privacy are enabled by default.

The biggest problem that many Windows users and IT experts have unveiled from Microsoft's newest upgrade is the loss of individual privacy. Cortana, their voice-driven virtual assistant (like Apple's Siri), is based on your personal data and user history as well. 

You can read Microsoft’s 12,000-word, 45-page terms of use agreement here, which their deputy general counsel, Horatio Gutierrez, describes as "straightforward terms and policies that people can easily understand".

It took me over an hour to read and digest the material though, so that certainly didn't qualify as "easy" to understand for me.


If you've already installed the upgrade, I've also provided some ways which you can manually disable these privacy settings at the end of this post.

2. Microsoft's stance on its user privacy policies.

“We will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary."



It makes me worried that even my emails and private communications will be used by Microsoft to disclose what I consider as my personal and private information to advertisers and third-parties. 

Remember when you were younger and how angry you got when you found out your parents/siblings read your diary?

Instead of your personal relatives, this time your information is being read by a large corporate giant instead whose rising profits has been pushing up its stock price ever since it went public on the stock market exchange.

3. Personalized advertisements.

Microsoft assigns you a unique advertising ID which is tied to your Microsoft email address. This helps to deliver personalized ads based on your browsing usage and habits, such as through the new Edge internet browser and unskippable video ads on Solitaire. 



If you want an ads-free version of Solitaire, you'll have to pay $10 a year. 

4. Cortana feels almost like a spy!

Take a look at this:
"To enable Cortana to provide personalized experiences and relevant suggestions, Microsoft collects and uses various types of data, such as your device location, data from your calendar, the apps you use, data from your emails and text messages, who you call, your contacts and how often you interact with them on your device.
Cortana also learns about you by collecting data about how you use your device and other Microsoft services, such as your music, alarm settings, whether the lock screen is on, what you view and purchase, your browse and Bing search history, and more.”
Legally, the vague term "and more" can be quite loosely defined. Can one argue that even collecting your iBanking password, for instance, could potentially be covered under this clause as well?


Already Upgraded To Windows 10? Here's What You Might Want To Do:
To understand what the privacy issues are in Microsoft's updated terms and services, you really should head over to their website and read their 12,000-word document.
A general first step towards protecting your privacy in the latest Windows 10 upgrade is to open your Settings --> Privacy, where you will find 13 different screens to review your privacy settings across different apps, networks and other Windows applications.
Under Speech, inking & typing, click on the "Stop getting to know me" box.

1. Deactivate automatic data syncing
Once you sign in with your Microsoft account, the OS immediately syncs your data to Microsoft servers, which includes your browsing history, bookmarked sites, mobile hotspot passwords, Wi-Fi network names and passwords, etc.
You can deactivate this by going to Settings.

2. Turn off personalized ads.
Click here to switch off "Personalised ads in this browser" and "Personalised ads whenever I use my Microsoft account" to off. 
3. Turn off your unique ad-tracking user ID.
Open up Settings --> Privacy --> General to modify the following options to "off".

4. Disable sharing of your Internet connection over Wi-Fi
Head over to Change Wi-Fi settings --> Manage Wi-Fi settings and uncheck all the boxes under "For networks I select, share them with".
5. Deactivate Cortana
It is a fabulous virtual assistant, but it has also been described to "play fast and loose with your data", so you have to decide whether the price your pay in terms of your privacy for Cortana's benefits is worth it.

Even my 18-year-old students had concerns when I broke down the different aspects of the policy to them. What do you think about Microsoft's latest move? Let me know your experience on Windows 10!

With love,
Budget Babe

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