Let’s get one thing straight: operating systems like Windows have always had to walk a line with privacy: balancing on one side user safety and discretion, while, on the other, features that observe and learn from user behavior. That being said, Windows 10 incorporates new features for tracking behavior that a lot of people think are going a bit too far. They’re not hidden though; in fact, they’re right there in the install screen.
So what is this tracking? It’s all about getting to know you. Windows 10 was designed to be a product of a multi-platform environment. It’s on as many tablets, laptops and phones as it is on desktops. This means being mobile-friendly, so it incorporates location services that can tell where you are.
It’s also about making things more convenient. By logging the kinds of things you write, the sites you visit, and the voice commands you prompt to Cortana, the OS can better predict what you’ll want int he future, making searches faster and more accurate.
The truth is, all of this is stuff that some people really want. At the same time, there’s another faction: those who are so cautious they won’t even open a browser without a pop-up and tracking blocker turned on. To these folks, the new predictive features in Windows 10 are nothing but bad news.
Most of us are somewhere in between the glass house and the tinfoil hat. Fortunately, whichever category you fit into, there are easy ways to monitor, manage and set your privacy preferences in Windows 10.
Getting to the Privacy Settings Window
Follow these steps to set your privacy preferences:
1. If you have a touchscreen, swipe left to bring up the Action Center. Tap All Settings.
2. For a desktop computer or laptop with a standard screen, click the Start button, then select Settings.
3. Tap or click Privacy.
4. You should see the General tab, which displays this list of invasive tracking options, all of which are set to “On” by default. To change the setting, tap or click the ones you want to change and slide the selector button to the left to turn them “Off.”
Your advertising ID
… is a tracking number lets advertisers target you inside Microsoft apps. A refresher: targeted advertising is just advertising aimed at a specific audience, namely, you. So sharing the advertising ID sets up ads for products that advertisers think you will be likely to buy.
When you slide this to Off, the data associated with this number is not shared with advertisers. It doesn’t mean ads won’t appear on Microsoft apps, they just won’t be targeted to you based on your behavior.
This item is designed to keep Windows Store apps from sending you to unsavory websites that might contain malware. We recommend leaving this setting on.
Typing and writing
This setting lets Windows actually track the way that you write and type, supposedly to improve handwriting recognition (writing) and autocomplete (typing). It collects information about your personal writing style and chops up the data so that it can’t be put back together and used to predict the sorts of things you’ll want to say.
If you find the idea of Microsoft tracking the way you input text a little creepy, slide this button to off. If, on the other hand, an autocorrect that more quickly learns what you want to say appeals to you, leave it on.
Locally relevant content
This one applies only if you are using a language other than English. It makes your browser (namely Microsoft Edge) display localized custom search results.
If your first language isn’t English and you want the browser to find sites that better match your language preferences, leave this on. Of course, depending on your other settings, it will also make advertising language-appropriate too.
Show me tips about Windows
Why not? Leave on to get tips about Windows delivered to your desktop. Too annoying? Toggle it off.
Manage My Microsoft advertising and other personalization info
Located just above the Privacy Statement is a link to a Microsoft web page. That page lets you turn on/off advertising that’s personalized according to your browsing and search histories
There’s also an option that’s lets you have it half-way. You can turn off personalized (targeted) ads in the browser as a whole, but still allow them on those sites that recognize your Microsoft account. These include Outlook.com, OneDrive and Microsoft Office Online; and it also includes MS affiliated sites too.
Believe it or not, some people like personalized ads – that is – they know ads are inevitable and figure you might as well see stuff that interests them. You can always ignore them . . . right?
Turn off/on to manage whether your browsing history is shared with advertisers.
Manage Privacy with an Automated Tool
Privacy is a key component of managing a computer. That’s why utilities like SlimCleaner Plus have incorporated push-button controls for managing privacy settings. Open the program and look for the icon labeled “Privacy.”
When the Privacy Manager opens, you can not only control how Windows gathers data, but also manage features related to how computer behavior is monitored and reported. Just add or remove checks to the boxes beside each privacy control.