Microsoft released the Windows 10 Anniversary Update on Aug 2nd, 2016. Similarly it released the Windows 10 Creators Update on April 11th, 2017. These two big updates brought many new features, security and privacy control to the average user.
But Microsoft is secretly collecting information of your Windows 10 PC through different sources. So unless you put a check on the information collected by it, your system will become slow, more bandwidth usage and more prone to ad bizarre.
So unless you change the default privacy settings, you are more likely to be prone to suggestions and personalized ads. Some of them can be useful and some can be little irritating.
So using the “Privacy” option in Windows Settings, you can change the different options available under this feature. One can control what Microsoft collects from your PC. You need to control which data of yours you want to share with Microsoft and other third-party apps.
Microsoft design engineers have added several new features in the Creators Update. Personally, I find my PC working quicker (from Internet point-of-view) and also the response of Windows 10 apps is super-quick, after these updates.
In this article, I am going to mention about the changes made to Privacy Settings and Family Options, after Windows 10 creators update.
In this item, you can control three options.
Windows 10 automatically started assigning an advertising ID (something unique to your Microsoft account and device and to the email address on file). Using this special “ID” it can tailor relevant ads based on your experience in Store, Apps and Browsing history to your computer.
- One can allow or stop apps using your advertising ID and prevent them from annoying you.
- You can allow or prevent websites from accessing your language options and show or hide local relevant content
- We can allow or stop Windows from remembering app launches. This can reduce the clutter or improve the Start and Search results.
Using this setting, you can set privacy options for current precise location of your computer. You can enable or disable location identification for your device. Using this service, Windows 10 will use your IP or sensor in your laptop or desktop and identify the device coordinates.
Using this option, you can allow or disable apps and services in Windows 10 to use the location feature. If any app is your location feature, you will see a particular symbol. You can also set the default location, in-case you decide to switch off this feature.
Your location history is stored for a limited time on this device, when the location feature is on your PC. But in-case you move to a new location, they may be delay or conflict. So you can clear the history if you change location.
You can also selectively choose which apps can choose the precise location of your computer. This gives you the privacy control on your apps and services, which can use and which cannot.
Windows 10 creators have introduced one special location feature called Geofencing. Using this, you can set a boundary drawn around a place of interest. Using your location feature, this will alert you when you cross the particular boundary etc. You can also decide which apps can use and which cannot.
Camera and Microphone
You can connect your webcam or use the default camera in your laptop in Windows 10. Using this privacy option, you can control which apps can use the camera hardware. Windows 10 has some default apps like Skype, Microsoft Edge, Store, Twitter, Sway, Photos, Maps etc which use camera and microphone.
But if you want to prevent Skype from automatically using your camera, you can set the privacy setting here.
One can deny Microphone access to apps using a similar option. You can disallow Audio Record, Messaging, Voice Recorder etc apps from automatically using your mic.
Windows 10 will display some message or pop-up to alert you, if there is something important that needs your attention. For example, Windows Defender can show a notification that your computer needs a scan or the News app may show the recent changes etc.
You can stop apps, programs etc using the Notification service privacy option. This will reduce the bandwidth usage by your apps and hence improve speed of the system.
Speech, Inking & Typing
In this privacy safeguard, Windows 10 allows you to control voice recognition, typing history and handwriting patterns. For example, when this privacy service is enabled, you can use your voice to talk to Cortana (intelligent personal assistant) or completely switch it off. When enabled, this will create a local user dictionary to make better suggestion through Cortana personalized for you.
Microsoft will also use your voice input to make cloud-based speech services work more efficiently.
When this is disabled, Cortana will not work and your typing and inking user dictionary will be cleared. But certain services that don’t rely on cloud like Windows Speech Recognition, typing suggestions and handwriting recognition which use system input will still continue to work.
As you know, every Windows 10 computer can be associated with a Microsoft account. You need to provide an @outlook.com email ID to register for this. So all your Windows 10 themes, apps, services, settings will be automatically synced (if you allow) to this account. In case you decide to change your computer, all the above features can be accessed again.
Sometimes, apps want to use your account info to provide personalized results and remember history. Also, some apps need this info to work properly. So this privacy setting can be enabled or disabled here.
In Windows 10 you can store the information of your friends and relatives like email, phone numbers etc. Also, the info available in Skype can be synced to it. So, all this information is handled by the Contacts app.
So, some apps want to use this data to provide related services. You can enable or disable the apps which want to use your Contacts details. You can have privacy and self-protection from unwanted apps from sending mails or messages to your contacts by allowing only certain apps access to Contacts.
For example, apps like Messaging, Skype, Twitter etc need this info to work properly. But if you are not using Xbox, then you can switch off the privacy option.
In the Privacy sector, you can allow certain apps to use the Windows 10 Calendar services. For example, People and Windows are the default apps which use this service. You can allow some more apps to use Calendar service, if they are in need of it.
Call History, Email, Tasks, Messaging
If you are using Skype in Windows 10, you can make calls in PC or laptop. So, it will store the call history to whom you make calls and other info. Now certain apps may want to use this info to provide better and personalized services. You can turn this function off, to have better privacy.
For example, Messaging and People apps want to use your call history to suggest better things.
The same privacy settings can be enabled or disabled for different apps by allowing them to use Email, Tasks, Messages to work properly. If you feel certain apps are violating your privacy rules, then you can disable under these options.
Some apps in Windows 10 may use radio signals like Bluetooth. This is specially to transfer files or photos. Also, you can send and receive data using Radios. But some apps want to control these radios on and off to work properly.
If you think they are intruding into your privacy, then you can disable them selectively.
In 2017, there are many devices other than PC. You can have smartphones, TVs, projectors, Xbox, beacons etc. So sometimes these other devices want to share your Windows 10 PC information wirelessly. This happens when these devices can’t explicitly pair with your PC, tablet or phone.
In such cases, you can allow to sync with these devices by switching this option. But if you want privacy and don’t want to share, you can selectively disable them.
Feedback & diagnostics
With Windows 10 release, Microsoft started showing more intent in user behavior and their usage. Also, it tries to collect some information based on your privacy settings. So, if you want it to collect data to keep Windows 10 update and secure, there are two settings here.
- Basic 2. Full
Using the Basic option, you will allow relevant info just needed to keep your PC secure and safe. The Full option will also collect data which can help fix things and improve Microsoft products and services. This will also send diagnostic data like browser, app and feature usage etc.
If you are working on Word 2016 and want Money, News , Remote Desktop etc apps to work in the background, it can be set here. This will help you get share quotes, latest news and other like minded info even though you are working on a different project.
But this will take little more resources and bandwidth. So, if you have more RAM and CPU power, only then allow apps to run in background. Here also you can selectively allow only certain apps to run in the background.
As implied earlier, Windows 10 will collect diagnostic information related to your device. In this privacy setting, you can allow some apps to access this data. Also, some apps use this diagnostic information from other apps to provide repair services and work as intended.
The diagnostic information may include things like names of running apps, the user account name, app memory, CPU, disk and network usage etc.
Some apps may have limited capability if this privacy option is disabled. But allowing too many apps to access your diagnostic information can also slow your computer. So selectively use this privacy feature.
Whenever your Windows 10 PC is being used by multiple users and kids, then privacy and parental controls still gain prominence. You need better control if it’s being used by people who you trust less. This way you can safeguard you private and secret information and also prevent other people from sneaking into your data.
Windows 10 Creators Update has made new changes that allows more Parental controls. This feature set can be opened using the “Windows Defender Security Center” window. When you click the up-arrow in the system tray, you can see several system notification icons. Just right-click the “Windows Defender” icon and click “Open”.
This will open all the Security settings available. At the bottom you can find the “Family options”.
The following feature are helpful in this regard
- Help protect your kids online
- Set good screen time habits
- Keep track of your child’s digital life
- Let your kids buy appropriate apps and games.
You just to have to click “View family settings” to tailor your options. This will open the Microsoft account page in your default browser window. Once you login, there are several options. You can “Add a child” or “Add another adult” etc.
Under one Microsoft account, if your family is registered, then you can see your all your family’s devices under one umbrella. You can also check the health and safety of your family’s devices. Once you added each family member’s device to this account, you can make sure they are up-to-date and secure.
You just have to click on “View devices”.
With the above privacy options, you can tailor your needs regarding efficiency, workability and control. Some apps will work if some access and permissions are given. So you can allow these minimum needs and shut the access to the rest of the apps. Also if you find any app intruding into your privacy and collecting your personal information, you can just shun access to it using the above options.
If you like the above Windows 10 tutorial, please share this article. Also make comments on how this new interface for Privacy options is like after the Creators update.