Windows 10 May Monitor the Apps You Use

by Tracy Knauer •

It’s no secret that Windows 10 collects lots of data about users. But a recent blog post by the company suggests that it might be tracking more information than previously thought, including which apps you have open.

There are a number of settings you can change in Windows 10 to make it more private (or you can use a privacy app to make changes automatically). They allow you to turn off many of the Windows 10 features that collect user information.

But they may not close privacy holes that Microsoft has not yet publicly revealed. In a blog post earlier this month, the company released data that shows it is tracking things like:

  • The number of hours people spend “on Windows.” (It’s unclear whether this means time actively using the operating system, or just with the computer turned on; either way, this is information Microsoft has not explicitly said it is monitoring.)
  • How many photos people view in the Windows photo app.
  • The amount of time people spend playing games on Windows 10.

The fact that Microsoft can give this information suggests that it is monitoring when and how people use Windows. It is apparently keeping track of the individual apps people are running, and what they do inside those apps. That is the only way it could know how many photos people open or how often they play games.

That type of monitoring goes beyond what Microsoft has so far disclosed. It also involves tracking that cannot be disabled in settings, where most of the privacy options have to do with advertising, network connections and Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant app. There is no option for telling Windows not to track the apps you have open.

The data revealed by Microsoft in the blog post supports earlier reports, like this one from a Reddit user, that Windows 10 transmits various types of private data even if users disable features like Cortana.

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