Microsoft Tests New Privacy Options in Windows Insider Build 17115

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Microsoft is still pushing out new Windows Insider builds ahead of the Spring Creators Update (aka Redstone 4) currently expected in April of 2018. Without much time left on the board, most major changes and updates are expected to be baked-in already. MS has made a small change to its privacy settings in its latest build 17115 in the Fast ring, and is clearly still experimenting with ways to show this information to consumers.

First, let’s talk about the different UI options MS is showing customers. When you install Windows, some Windows Insiders are seeing a screen like the one below.


There’s actually one change we’ll be discussing separately, but for the most part, this is the same dialog box Microsoft has been using for Windows 10 privacy setup for a while now. It provides a more detailed breakdown on per-setting privacy options than the screen that Windows originally debuted with back in 2015.

The new alternative that MS is testing is a privacy screen in which each option is presented on its own page. There’s an option to learn more about the impact of each change (we don’t know what text accompanies the options yet), and an “Accept” option that locks in the user’s choice during installation. All of these settings can still be changed from the Windows Privacy section of the Settings menu after the OS has been installed.


It’s interesting to see Microsoft putting various privacy settings front-and-center during the installation process, but it’s not clear to me if this is any kind of improvement. MS still sets a visible default on installation, and extensive research on the choices people make in various contexts has shown that people tend to stick with the default option by, well, default. This large, in-your-face display definitely makes certain users see privacy options, while sticking with the settings MS prefers you use. I’m not sure it’s a better method than the current screen, unless your goal is to shut up people who claim they were never given any privacy settings during the installation process.

But there is a more meaningful change to Microsoft’s privacy settings to discuss. Up until now, if you wanted to use Microsoft’s “Find My Device,” option, you also had to enable Location Tracking as a whole. There was no way to activate the ability to find a lost or stolen device unless you’d also opted into other kinds of tracking. Now, that option is broken out from the other switches.

We desktop users don’t need “Find My Device.” We just follow the debris trail and listen for hernias.

It’s not a huge change, but it’s also not the only privacy change arriving in this iteration of Windows 10. There’s also a new Privacy Dashboard and a Windows Diagnostic Data Viewer that allows end-users to check which information is sent to Microsoft. For more details on the latest Insider Build 17115, head over to Microsoft.

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