Windows 10 set to improve privacy by revealing what data it collects about you

Windows 10

In a move that will certainly please privacy-conscious users, it seems that Microsoft is about to introduce the ability to view and delete the telemetry data that Windows 10 collects, according to new options that have popped up in the operating system’s latest preview builds.

There has long been controversy about Windows 10’s treatment of the user’s privacy, and one of the thorniest aspects has been what ‘diagnostic’ data the OS collects from the user’s PC to send back to Microsoft’s servers for analysis.

Last April, after taking what seemed like endless heat on the issue, Microsoft clarified what personal data Windows 10 collects on a basic level (the minimum amount of telemetry data you can elect to send).

But as Ghacks spotted, the most recent preview builds of Windows 10 (released this month and last month) have a pair of new options at the bottom of the Diagnostics & Feedback screen: ‘Diagnostic data viewer’ and ‘Delete diagnostic data’.

At the moment, these are merely placeholders which don’t function or do anything when clicked, but hopefully they will be live for those testing Windows 10 soon enough.

As a result, it’s not clear exactly what their function is at this point, but it seems obvious enough: the former should allow the user to fully view all the diagnostic data being collected on their system, and the latter should facilitate its deletion.

The devil’s in the data

Being able to view a full list (presumably it will be a full list, anyway) of collected diagnostic data yourself – as opposed to the previously published generic list of the basic level of data which is hoovered up – is a commendable step towards greater overall transparency, and a definite privacy boon.

As to what deletion of the diagnostic data entails, that’s something we’ll only know when Microsoft fully fleshes out these features. Assuming these options are actually realized, of course; there’s no guarantee that they’ll make it to the finished version of Windows 10.

However, it seems unlikely that you’ll be able to use deletion to flush out any data before it’s sent to Microsoft, as the company maintains it needs basic telemetry data in order to keep Windows secure (and to troubleshoot things like wonky updates, helping to spot problems early and take relevant action).

One thing is clear, though – it’s definitely a good sign that Microsoft isn’t finished working on making Windows 10 seem a more palatable proposition in terms of the user’s privacy.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).