Microsoft Loves You! (More Than You Know)

Image courtesy of photostock at

Image courtesy of photostock at

Have you upgraded to Windows 10 yet?  By all accounts, it is leaps and bounds better than the universally-reviled Windows 8, and keeps alive Microsoft’s odd/even string of cursed/decent operating system releases.  The best part is that it is free (supposedly) to current Windows 7 and 8 users, though we have yet to test this out ourselves.

The less-than-wonderful part? Apparently the new OS is none too shy about spying on your activity — nothing new for Microsoft in terms of browser usage, but their data collection has now expanded to include the contents of messages and calendars, apps and networks, some purchases, what you upload to Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage, and use of the sparkly new Cortana search assistant.

Of course, you can opt out of all (?) of this stuff during installation, or afterwards if you’re the kind of person who never reads those Terms & Conditions screens (which means 99.5% of humanity). After all, Microsoft would never, ever want to know things about their customers without permission, right? As they have stated, “real transparency starts with straightforward terms and policies that people can clearly understand.”

Here’s the catch: that “transparency” comes in the form of 45 pages of service agreement documents. And you can believe those docs aren’t written in the King’s English, either, but rather in the kind of techno-legalese that pretty much guarantees you give up reading after three pages or so.  This comment from a terrific Rock Paper Shotgun article pretty much says it all:

There is no world in which 45 pages of policy documents and opt-out settings split across 13 different Settings screens and an external website constitutes “real transparency.”

Why all of this data collection? Two words: targeted ads.  No different than the practices of Facebook, Google, Twitter, or any other “free” online service whose end game is knowing as much as possible about you, and therefore about what you would like to buy. So, buyer-beware, and user-beware, when it comes to upgrading. Oh, and if you happen to currently use some other browser than Internet Explorer (and by all that’s holy, you should), be prepared to have that overridden by the upgrade, as well. But that’s an article for another day!