Windows 10 start menu phones home

One of the recurring themes in the news about Windows 10 is the myriad privacy and security compromises that users have to make in order to utilize the new features. One of the reasons for the increased data collection on the part of Microsoft is that, unlike previous versions of Windows, Windows 10 is both a desktop and cloud-based operating system. The new functionality requires Microsoft to have access to more user information. One of the other reasons may be that, as Windows 10 is a free operating system, Microsoft has to increasingly monetize user information to turn a profit. 

The following screenshot, entitled “Windows 10 phones home when you search your start menu, even with Bing disabled,” has been making the rounds on internet forums since yesterday. It shows a request by Microsoft’s server to retrieve information from the user’s computer based on their use of the Start Menu search bar, even after they have disabled Microsoft’s proprietary search engine Bing. While Cortana, the Siri-like Windows 10 search assistant, is known for gathering user data such as location and typing information, and it’s well-known that Windows 10 collects significant amounts of user data, the revelation that Microsoft collects search data outside of Bing is seen as surprisingly intrusive by some users. 

According to ComputerWorld, Windows 10 has sweeping telemetry and data collection features which record “everything from how often the USB port on the device was used to where Web browsers were directed.” Additionally, this data collection is “not only on by default but cannot be completely deactivated without a dangerous trip into the Windows Registry.” The Windows 10 FAQ provides limited information about the scope of feedback and diagnostic information your computer sends to Microsoft. 

Do you think decreased privacy in Windows 10 is a fair trade off for its new features?