Microsoft Windows, Your friendly neighbourhood spy

Microsoft Windows, Your friendly neighbourhood spy

Microsoft is a bit like a jealous, paranoid partner when it comes to your computer. The system wants to know everything you get up to and it seems you can’t do a thing without Microsoft keeping a record of what websites you visit, what you type, where you are, who you know, what you shop for etc etc..

This short article explores some of this activity and offers a guide to how to get some control over your privacy.

(or you could switch to Linux which is free, doesn’t pry into or interfere with your online activity, needs no anti-virus, has a free full suite of office applications that is fully compatible with Microsoft Office, has numerous other free applications for graphics, music, film editing, photo editing, music editing, watching films. It has Firefox and Google Chrome and many other feature none of which cost a penny.

Anyway back to your Microsoft induced suffering…

Advertising ID collects information about you when you browse the web and when you use Windows 10 apps.
Start button (at the lower left corner of your screen)
>Settings icon, (which looks like a gear)
>General. Here you’ll see a list of choices under “Change privacy options”; the first controls the advertising ID. Move the slider from On to Off. Ads will now be generic ones rather than targeted ones.

Sign into your Microsoft account at the top of the page.
> “See ads that interest you”
move the slider from On to Off.
scroll down to “See personalized ads in your browser
move the slider from On to Off.
You may want to do this to every browser you use.

Diagnostics and feedback
Settings > Privacy > Diagnostics & Feedback.
Here you can choose between two levels of diagnostic data to be gathered. Note that there’s no way to stop Microsoft from gathering diagnostic data entirely. Here are your two choices:

Basic: Sends information to Microsoft “about your device, its settings and capabilities, and whether it is performing properly.” If you have concerns about your privacy, choose this setting.

Full: This sends: “all Basic diagnostic data, along with info about the websites you browse and how you use apps and features, plus additional info about device health, device usage, and enhanced error reporting.” If you have privacy concerns don’t make this choice.

Also on this screen is the “Improve inking & typing recognition” section. Move the slider to Off. This will prevent Windows 10 from sending to Microsoft the words you input using the keyboard and inking.

Location Settings
> Privacy
> Location.
Under title “Allow access to location on this device,” click> Change
on screen move the slider from On to Off.

Windows gathers information about all your activities on each of your machines. To turn this off:
go to Settings > Privacy > Activity History and uncheck the boxes next to “Store my activity history on this device” and “Send my activity history to Microsoft.”
To clear your activity history (Yes, Microsoft also stores that!)
Settings > Privacy > Activity History.
Under Clear Activity History, click the Clear button.
If you want to prevent Windows from continuing to collect this data, under Collect Activities toggle off the option: Let Windows collect my activities.

Microsoft’s Privacy Dashboard
Microsoft provides a web tool called the Privacy Dashboard that lets you track and delete a lot of information Microsoft gathers about you. To get to it, go to
Here you can turn off ad targeting and limit the data gathered in Cortana’s Notebook; view and delete your search history, browsing history, voice activity, location activity, media activity and many others.

Windows apps can also invade your privacy through access to your camera, microphone, location, pictures and videos. To control this access do the following.
Settings > Apps. Below “Apps & features” there is a list of your installed apps. Click the app whose permissions you want to control, then click Advanced options and set the app’s permissions by toggling them either on or off.

You can also go to Settings > Privacy.
Under the “App permissions” section on the left-hand side of the page there is a list of Windows’ hardware, capabilities and features that apps can access if they’re given permission; things like microphone,camera, location, notifications, account info, contacts etc.
Clicking on a listed item gives you the ability to turn off what access that device or function has to other applications.
You’ll see a list of all apps linked to the device where you can control access on an app-by-app basis. To stop any app from having access, (where the slider is set to On) move the slider to Off.

If you’re in North London and  want help in getting your Windows under control, or want help with any other difficulty you may be having with your computer or home /small business network, get in touch.


%d bloggers like this: