The Cortana Virtual Assistant is one of the new flagship features of Windows 10.
As with smartphones Apple or Android, it is possible to enjoy a smart voice assistant with Windows 10 computers. This wizard called Cortana will try to answer all your questions. To use it nothing more simple
Among the content of the endless service contract imposed on Windows 10 users by the company, here is the excerpt of the Microsoft privacy statement that has generated much reaction in recent hours:
“We access, disclose and store personal information, including your content (such as the content of your e-mail, other private communications or files in private files), when we believe in good faith that such action is necessary.”
Fortunately, if the idea of letting Microsoft search your files does not enchant you, it should not activate the virtual assistant in Windows 10 for the following reasons:
Windows collects a lot of personal information for advertising purposes
More than Windows, Microsoft is collecting personal information. When you install Windows 10, you are strongly encouraged to create a Microsoft account. A unique advertising identifier is then attached to your account. It is he who will target advertising. They can be “based on your current location, search query, or content you’re viewing,” but also “your demographics, search queries, interests, favorites, usage data.”, and your location data. This is a lot and this is valid for Windows, but also for its search engine Bing, for location data obtained by your Windows Phone, and so on.
Microsoft has recently unified all of its privacy policies. An approach similar to that of Google in 2012. This means that your information can flow from one product to another.
However, Microsoft says do not use “what you say in emails, chats, video calls or voicemail, or your documents, photos or other personal files to send you targeted ads.” This does not mean that these or other data are not collected.
The Microsoft account allows you to synchronize settings such as your home screen layout, browser history and favorites, and the passwords you have chosen to save. A policy here again quite similar to that of Google, but that can offend the users most attached to their privacy.
Windows 10 is less respectful of privacy than its predecessor
It’s almost wrong. In terms of privacy, the criticisms made against Windows 10 could be made to Windows 8.1, the previous version of Windows. When viewing the Windows 8.1 Privacy Statement, the synchronization of settings between different devices was already in place. The unique advertising ID also.
Some specialized sites, such as NextInpact or Numerama, note that when a user of OneDrive, the Microsoft Storage Service, chooses the BitLocker encryption solution, the data recovery key is stored on Microsoft’s servers.
In theory, this means that Microsoft can provide the NSA the sesame that can decrypt the data on your hard drive, if the agency has a legal request.
This was already true for Windows 8.1. Except that at the time, Microsoft guaranteed that the recovery key was in good hands. “We do not use the recovery key information for any purpose,” the Windows 8.1 privacy statement stated. This is no longer found in the new Windows 10 Privacy Statement.
Cortana, the Windows voice assistant, is a weasel
At the same time, it’s his job. The more Cortana knows about you, the more the software is able to meet your expectations.
The privacy statement states in a Prevert list: “Microsoft collects and uses different types of data, such as the location of your device, your calendar data, the apps you use, your email data, and your data. text messages, people you call, your contacts and the frequency of your interactions with them on your device (…) how you use your device and other Microsoft services, such as your music, your alarm settings , if the locked screen is on, what you’re watching and buying, your Bing browsing and search history, and more. ”
“And more” probably means that Cortana has to evolve, and therefore to brew more data from its users. For those who care about their privacy, this can be unfortunate.
Again, these policies are not very different from those of Google’s assistant software, Google Now. Siri, the voice assistant for Apple, is a little less invasive: Apple as such collects data but does not associate with your Apple account. It is the device as such that is identified. Your data is therefore slightly better protected.
Microsoft imposes irrevocable violations of our privacy
Many of the methods by which Microsoft recovers personal information can be blocked before and after the installation of the operating system. The problem is that the firm does not make it very easy. For example, Windows does not directly ask the user if he agrees to deliver all his personal information. Users themselves must take the step.
To help them, the specialized site NextInpact has published a guide to refuse the various cookies of Windows 10. Those who want to use the strong way and are not afraid of a little technique will find happiness in this “ultimate guide” signed by a webdesigner and blogger, named Blacksheep. It proposes to uninstall all suspicious software, one by one, by hand.
How to evict Microsoft from Windows 10?
First, go to the Windows 10 Settings under Privacy. We propose you to go through 13 sections (it’s actually a lot) to disable anything that you think is worrying. Of course, if the heart of what can be disturbing is found under the General tab, do not ignore what is found in the other sections.
Note that everything can be essentially disabled, except diagnostic and usage data (in the Comments and Diagnostics section). However, you can configure your PC to send only basic data to Microsoft.
Then you have to question the presence of Cortana, the intelligent personal assistant of Microsoft. Indeed, certainly one of the most interesting novelties of Windows 10 represents an important intrusion of the private life.
The third step is to go to the Microsoft Custom Ads Preferences page to disable the Custom Ads feature in this browser and Custom Ads wherever I use my Microsoft account.
Finally, the last step is rather optional and will appeal especially to those who absolutely want to cut the links with Microsoft. This is to delete your Microsoft account from Windows 10 and replace it with a local account. Logically, this means that your authentication will be different on your PC than on Microsoft services (unless you use the same password everywhere, and if so, shame on you).
If you choose this option, go to the Windows 10 Settings under Accounts tab to create a new local administrator profile and delete the one that is linked with your Microsoft profile.