back to article Microsoft whips out tool so you can measure Windows 10's data-slurping creepiness

Microsoft is laying its cards out on the table. The software giant has produced a tool that's claimed to show users how much personal information Windows 10 collects and sends back to Redmond for diagnostics. The application is dubbed Diagnostic Data Viewer, and is free from the Windows Store. It reveals that stuff like the …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reporting ...

    ... after the Event.

    Stable Door meet bolted horse.

    1. Chika

      Re: Reporting ...

      It's more than that. Oh yes, they want to be as transparent as possible but the loss of trust means that some will have trouble trusting a tool from Microsoft, and they still won't switch the slurp off either.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        'they still won't switch the slurp off either.'

        That irks the most! Users don't want to PAY for an OS that's Slurpy and a Update 'bully'. That's why 50% are sticking with Win7 till at least 2020. Listen Microsoft, sell a version of Win10 to end-users that's Slurp-FREE / Update-Flexible!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 'they still won't switch the slurp off either.'

          "Users don't want to PAY for an OS that's Slurpy and a Update 'bully'. "

          Presumably why it was a free upgrade for ages.

          "sell a version of Win10 to end-users that's Slurp-FREE / Update-Flexible!"

          On the current builds its only a couple of clicks during setup to disable the slurp. And it already is update flexible - there are lots of options including delaying updates.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: 'they still won't switch the slurp off either.'

            "Presumably why it was a free upgrade for ages."

            Oh, we remember the free upgrade well. Mainly because Microsoft was repeatedly and aggressively trying to force it on people, even when they'd repeatedly refused, using various techniques that even bland, conservative mainstream IT publications were comparing to malware.

            Such as the maliciously designed dialog boxes designed to give the impression there was no way of opting out and- notoriously- changing the widely-accepted behaviour of the close button on that dialog so that it *didn't* cancel the upgrade.

            Such as repeatedly replacing people's preferred settings that they didn't want the upgrade, automatically downloading the upgrade (wasting bandwidth and hard drive space) "just in case" people wanted to upgrade.

            They were so aggressive in forcing this that the "GWX (Get Windows 10) Control Panel" tool was released to change this behaviour, and MS still repeatedly attempted to work around user's attempts not just to say "no" but to actively block the forced upgrade.

            This is so far beyond any legitimate definition of "good faith" that it defies belief.

            A few months after the free upgrade "offer" ended, MS offered an "apology" that was really a weasel-worded attempt to reframe and minimise things in their favour.

            They acknowledged *one* small aspect of the numerous things they'd done during the forced upgrade debacle, and apologised for that as if it were the only thing they'd done that had pissed people off at the time. Presumably they were hoping that peoples' hazy memories would have them think "oh, is that the only reason I was annoyed at MS? Well, I guess that's annoying, but it's forgiveable in hindsight".

            Fuck off. Fuck *right* off.

          2. Not also known as SC Silver badge

            Re: 'they still won't switch the slurp off either.'

            "only a couple of clicks during setup to disable the slurp" and if Windows 10 comes pre-installed as it does on most consumer machines how do you switch it off then? You can change the setting to basic slurp from full slurp or vice-versa but I didn't see anyway of turning it off last time I looked.

          3. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: 'they still won't switch the slurp off either.'

            "On the current builds its only a couple of clicks during setup to disable the slurp."

            Oh? How is this done? The last time I checked, it was literally impossible to disable the slurp. The best you can do is to minimize it.

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: 'they still won't switch the slurp off either.'

            erm it's still free

        2. davidp231

          Re: 'they still won't switch the slurp off either.'

          Didn't they backport a lot of the Win10 slurping to Win7+8 as an "essential security update"?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: 'they still won't switch the slurp off either.'

            They did, but it's trivial to disable. Unlike the hard baked slurp in 10.

        3. Wade Burchette

          Re: 'they still won't switch the slurp off either.'

          Windows 10 still won't have a proper and logical start menu, Aero, pre-boot F8, or a proper backup program. Those are the reasons why I'm sticking with Windows 7 to the bitter end, because I block all slurp at the router level.

      2. salamamba too

        Re: Reporting ...

        It's not about transparency, it's about getting more logins to the windows store, so they can tie people to machines. A data slurp disguised as a transparency tool.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Reporting ...

          Tinfoil hat much?

        2. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Reporting ...

          This is what makes the thing straight-up insulting: you have to sign up for a Microsoft account in order to get it.

          Plus, of course, it's mostly useless.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Reporting ...

            You can disable the slup with one or two clicks with O&O ShutUp10

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Reporting ...

      I do wonder if this reporting tool will just download everything on your PC to MSHQ so they can compare it with what they've got already. Its the only way to be sure!

    3. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Reporting ...

      More to the point, you can't download it from the MS Store without an account who's EULA has you sign away your first born.

  2. J J Carter Silver badge
    Windows

    Well done, MSFT!

    Now will Google do the same for Android?

    1. Ledswinger Silver badge

      Re: Well done, MSFT!

      Now will Google do the same for Android?

      The obvious thing for both companies is to offer not just more transparency, but to give customers a choice. Use the service for free in exchange for your privacy, or pay for the product with all slurping and feedback turned off (diagnostics, crash reports, the lot).

      In that situation, I wonder what the price point for Android would be? And whether you'd need to offer variants of "purchase as product", and "purchase as a service"? As a service, say paid monthly (like Google Drive), you'd expect feature and version upgrades included. Buy as a product for an upfront price (say £40?) you'd only get security and bug fixes. Google would need to will take the handset makers and networks out of the update chain for that to work.

      My guess is that far too few people would pay, and of the few who would, the price point wouldn't be high enough. Anybody know what Google thinks an Android user is worth annually? Any views on what you'd REALLY fork out to protect your privacy?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well done, MSFT!

        Google already do this,

        If you are logged in then just go to accounts.google.com

        and check 'my activity' and delete anything you don't want there.

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Well done, MSFT!

          And it suffers from the same flaws as Microsoft's effort: you have to have an account, and it doesn't stop the data collection.

      2. nematoad Silver badge

        Re: Well done, MSFT!

        "The obvious thing for both companies is to offer not just more transparency, but to give customers a choice."

        I'm sure that they do. The trouble is that the users are not the customer the ad slingers are. The users are the product.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well done, MSFT!

      https://myaccount.google.com/privacy

      Been there for as long as I can recall.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: https://myaccount.google.com/privacy

        Hmm, and why would we trust that any more than MS's new tool? The difference of course is that google tracking is on pretty much every website you visit whatever device you use, whether you have a Google account or not.

        Yet somehow MS get much more shit for their slurping though Google's is much more widespread....

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well done, MSFT!

        And you are more than welcome to download, compile, audit Android source code...

        Therefore, the big question is, it's time for Apple to step up, and that's a closed platform, and only Apple knows what's being sent back to HQ over that encrypted link...

        Me, I'm more than happy with the security and privacy of my Google Pixel 2...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well done, MSFT!

      >>>> Now will Google do the same for Android?

      Why the down votes??? Does anyone think google aren't slurping their data??

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Well done, MSFT!

        I suspect that the downvotes are because Google already does this for Android and has for years.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well done, MSFT!

        "Does anyone think google aren't slurping their data??"

        Google are "slurping" exactly what they claim they "slurp", it's written in black and white, in their privacy policy that you are either too stupid, or too lazy to read. It's obviously much easier to just lap up some fake news from the internet, as it fits your belief...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Well done, MSFT!

          Microsoft hard-coded data slurping into Windows 10.

          Google's apps and services: you have a choice whether to use them.

          There is no choice for most users when it comes to desktop Windows.

          Data slurping should never be allowed at the OS level.

          Big difference.

          ---

          Case in point: on Windows 10's Chinese language input keyboard (Simplified Chinese pinyin keyboard), the data slurping happens by default as you type in characters. Some word suggestions have a cloud icon next to it; they're suggestions retrieved from Microsoft's 'cloud' as it 'learns about your typing habits'. You have to go inside the keyboard preferences and turn it off manually.

          This is on an installation of Windows 10 (local account) with all telemetry and data mining disabled. No Cortana, OneDrive etc. And yet data slurping still happens.

          No cloud hooks on the Chinese keyboard in previous versions of Windows.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well done, MSFT!

      Since when did Android need it? It's well documented what the deal is, and it's totally optional. You don't sign up to Google's stuff, you get a Googleless Android that doesn't "leak" anything. You do want the googly stuff, you read the privacy policy and it does exactly as it claims it does.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Available to the masses?

    From MS blog

    To kick off the new year ahead of Data Privacy Day we are giving our Windows Insiders an early preview of the Windows Diagnostic Data Viewer coming in our next release of Windows

    Unless there is a link you can provide?, or perhaps you would like to correct your piece?

  4. agatum

    "This is all part of our commitment to increase your trust and confidence in our products and services."

    After your recent activities my trust is something you'll never get back. Never. If you introduce 'telemetry OFF' -switch AND it is proven by gazillion experts that the switch is indeed working I may update my one win machine to 10.

    1. Updraft102 Silver badge

      Turning off the telemetry won't get rid of what I consider to be the worst "feature" of Windows 10, which is the ridiculous update schedule that Microsoft refers to as being part of "Windows as a Service." Way too much change, way too often.

      1. Def Silver badge

        which is the ridiculous update schedule

        That can be annoying, yes. But you can also pause updates on a machine for up to 35 days at a time. Which is what I do on nearly all my machines now.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "That can be annoying, yes. But you can also pause updates on a machine for up to 35 days at a time. Which is what I do on nearly all my machines now."

          After which, full screen nags will start taking over your machine. The only way to "ignore" these nag dialogs is to click 'Get Updates' and then Alt+F4 the resulting update Window, by which time your ship has flown into the Sun because controller input was blocked. (Gaming is the only responsibility I've left Windows with).

          I say "ignore" because it's not really ignoring, that is no longer an option, what I really mean is "frantically getting back to where you were before something bad happens". Whenever I reboot for games now, I literally go make a coffee, then read The Register while waiting for the update prompt - anywhere between a few minutes and a couple of hours, then I can game. Roll on Vulcan already.

          The end result is I update less frequently now, with forced updates, than I did when they were optional and could be applied at a convenient time. I also play less games as a result. Good work MS.

          1. agatum

            I say "ignore" because it's not really ignoring, that is no longer an option, what I really mean is "frantically getting back to where you were before something bad happens". Whenever I reboot for games now, I literally go make a coffee, then read The Register while waiting for the update prompt - anywhere between a few minutes and a couple of hours, then I can game. Roll on Vulcan already.

            I did not realize this. Never mind what I said earlier about updating to w10. No way I let these fuckers ruin even one frame of worldoftanks for me. So it's w7 for me. Games and one client project is the only reason I still occasionally boot to win. Many of the games I already play on mac and as soon as my client sees the light and moves to some sort of nix it's byebye slurp and thanks for all the rotten fish.

        2. JohnFen Silver badge

          "But you can also pause updates on a machine for up to 35 days at a time."

          Something which has literally never actually worked for me, much like the "ask before rebooting" option has never worked.

          Even if it does work, it's not a solution to the problem that you are still forced to apply updates.

        3. Updraft102 Silver badge

          "That can be annoying, yes. But you can also pause updates on a machine for up to 35 days at a time. Which is what I do on nearly all my machines now."

          Delaying 35 days didn't help the Intel Clover Trail laptop owners who had upgraded to Windows 10, only to find that the Creator's Update wouldn't work on their machines, ever. MS had changed something so much that the drivers designed for Windows 10 no longer worked with Windows 10. The GWX adware had told the owners of these machines that they were fully Windows 10 compatible, and with that being "the last version of Windows ever," they expected to have Windows 10 working at least for the useful service life of the device. But less than two years after Windows 10 landed, they were already out in the cold.

          Initially, Microsoft just told these customers "too bad, so sad," but the anger over that quickly prompted Microsoft to continue offering security fixes for the last version of 10 their Clover Trail PCs were able to use, but only until 2023, when the Windows 8.x the devices had shipped with was going out of extended support.

          The very next patch, Creator's Fall Update, broke even more Windows 10 drivers. Razer warned their customers not to update to Creator's Fall Update, as every PC they sell was incompatible. They all had a full set of Windows 10 drivers, but again, those Windows 10 drivers were no longer compatible with Windows 10.

          This has been the story of Windows 10 from the start. Each new "feature" update breaks a ton of stuff that USED to work. It's so pervasive that the developer of Classic Shell has given up... with each new version of 10 breaking the program, it was just more than he could or would handle. Given that Classic Shell is one of the things that makes Windows 10 tolerable for a lot of people, it's kind of an interesting turn of events that Classic Shell no longer finds Windows 10 tolerable.

          No 35-day delay will be enough if you are one of the customers for whom Classic Shell made the difference between Windows 10 being acceptable and Windows 10 being intolerable. Even if the OSS community picks up where he left off and continues to develop Classic Shell, it won't change the pattern of Microsoft making huge changes and breaking things their customers rely on twice a year.

          The last time I had 10 on one of my machines, I had removed a good bit of the crap from it. Edge, Cortana, Windows Store, and every other "app" had all been ripped out. It still ran just fine, and with those things gone, it was closer to acceptable than it had been with them still installed. Even so, that was about when I gave up on 10 ever being usable... I wiped the SSD I had 10 on and repurposed it as a Linux boot device for my main PC (installed alongside the SSD that PC had installed with Windows on it).

          I had made a lot of deep changes to Windows 10, and even though they worked right then, I could see that this was unlikely to remain that way for long. The tricks I had used to flush the apps would very possibly stop working, or perhaps the things like Cortana that had been removed (so far without any ill effects) would have much deeper ramifications going forward. With 10 changing so much, there simply was no way to know that the modifications I had made would be possible at all in the future, and without that assurance, Windows 10 was of no use to me. Unless I was prepared to accept things completely on Microsoft's terms, there was no way that 10 was going to work.

          I don't want to delay the feature updates for 35 days, or 365 days for that matter. I want to avoid them forever. While a small minority of the "features" these updates contain are actually things I would want, the one thing an OS needs is notably absent: Stability. I don't just mean the lack of crashing or other malfunctions, though that's a big part of it. I also mean stability in terms of APIs and compatibility with all of that stuff that used to work on Windows 10 (drivers, programs like Classic Shell, etc.).

          An OS is supposed to be a stable, sturdy foundation for the programs people run to build upon. Those programs are the things that are supposed to be fun and exciting, not the OS itself. Microsoft's trying to make Windows 10 the star of the show, and that's not what an OS is about. The OS, if it does its job, kind of fades into the background, quietly doing its thing while the applications get all of the glory. The OS, in normal use, is only really noticed if it malfunctions, impedes the user, or otherwise does something wrong. That's happening on nearly a daily basis with Windows 10 now... it's getting noticed a lot, but for all the wrong reasons.

          As far as I am concerned, as long as Windows 10 is on this "WaaS" release schedule, it is unfit for purpose. While the ability to turn off updates and otherwise control them in the manner that all previous Windows versions could is a necessary thing for 10 if it is to become fit for purpose, it wouldn't be enough in and of itself. With each build essentially being a new version of Windows, the 18 months of support that each one gets is woefully short. Even if you install a new build on the day it is released, you'll be completely unsupported and forced to upgrade in a year and a half, even if you have the ability to turn off update checking and to pick and choose which ones to install.

          What would be needed here is something like LTSB for end users, but MS tries to tell us that LTSB is only for very specialized use cases like ATMs and POS machines, not for general-purpose PCs even within the corporate environment that has access to LTSB. No, the rest of us can't have that because we "need" to have all of the wonderful "features" MS wants to force on us to justify WaaS in the first place. MS didn't ask us what we need... they're telling us what we need. That, in a nutshell, is the problem.

          1. Jim in Hayward

            I have windows 10 professional upgrade installed on a 2008 Dell Core 2 Duo, 4GB ram, 256GB SSD 15" laptop. I use a utility I found to Show/Hide Windows Updates. As of today I am still successfully running Version 1607, having avoided the Creators and Fall Creators feature updates. I manually control when to check for updates (which will install automatically if it finds any). Of course I do a full backup to Acronis before I click that check for updates button. After every update I run that utility to verify that the 1709 Feature Update remains hidden.

            What a PAIN, right?? But it's success! LOL.

  5. Dwarf Silver badge

    Effort

    Must have taken a lot more effort to produce the app than it would to just give an off button that does what it says

    We still don’t trust you and therefore won’t use the product.

    My data is mine, not yours.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: My data is mine, not yours.

      And Google's, obviously.

      1. VinceH Silver badge

        Re: My data is mine, not yours.

        "And Google's, obviously."

        Sure. Unless you take steps to limit it - there are ways and means. They probably still get some data from me, but it's nowhere near as much as they could get if I just shrugged my shoulders and accepted what they do.

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: My data is mine, not yours.

        But this discussion is about Microsoft. That Google is also awful on these issues is irrelevant.

      3. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: My data is mine, not yours.

        "And Google's, obviously."

        Fuck off with your whataboutism. Who are you, Sean Hannity?

        Jibbers garlic-covered Crabst...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So... They are both doing it

    Microsoft and Apple OS's sending telemtary to the mothership that is.

    Perhaps the biggest questions are then:-

    - is what happens to that data and is it anonomyzed and how long is it kept

    - Ok, but what is in this data? Does in include my inside leg measurement and the last call I made to my bit on the side?

    - Do you sell that data to 3rd parties?

    And specifically to MS

    - Why, oh why, oh why have you made it so hard to block and why do you make us go through even more hoops after every set of patches to block it again?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So... They are both doing it

      " - is what happens to that data and is it anonomyzed and how long is it kept"

      Obviously it's used to improve your Windows Experience.

      "- Ok, but what is in this data? Does in include my inside leg measurement and the last call I made to my bit on the side?"

      It's telemetry data, duh, no we don't care about your inside leg measurement, as for your bit on the side, well yeah, sure, why not? We've also given her your WiFi password.

      "- Do you sell that data to 3rd parties?"

      Not openly no... we sell no user information, only usage stats.

      "- Why, oh why, oh why have you made it so hard to block and why do you make us go through even more hoops after every set of patches to block it again?"

      Because we know you don't want it and keep turning it off, however we need this data as we're not making enough from selling functional software people do want. Even if we only get a little bit of data before you realise we've changed the setting again, every little helps.

  7. 45RPM Silver badge

    Apple does request permission to phone home with ‘telemetry’. Every sodding time you upgrade the OS. I gave my answer once - I’m not certain I fully understand the rationale behind having to provide it again. And again. And again.

    My answer, for what it’s worth, is yes - phone home. I’m even happy for the anonymised crash reports to be sent out from Apple to the developers of the software. As a developer I understand that it’s nigh on impossible to fix a crash and improve your software without lots of evidence. This ‘telemetry’ is the best way of gathering it.

    Once again, at least for Microsoft and Apple, this feels like a storm in a tea cup. A smoke and mirrors distraction from the monumental data slurp and security error that is Facebook and other social networks. Gathering crash dumps is not what we should be focusing on. But well done Microsoft for releasing this tool - even if most users won’t have a scoobies what it means.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Don't forget Google, your banks (using omniture), and just about every other organisation which seems to have an interest in your computer.

      Some of the designers (haha) actually make it impossible to block third party crap, and clearly have not considered what would happen if the third party host went titsup?

      Why do a UK based high street banks/building societies need to communicate with a site in america to carry out its UK based business?

    2. nkuk

      Its not a storm in a teacup compared to Facebook and other social networks. Those social networks only harvest what you choose to feed them. On the other hand Windows 10 has access to all your confidential data, keystrokes, what applications you use and when, full telemetry of your browsers and all the data that is coming in and out of your PC, etc, etc.

      Lumping in crash reports with all the other harvesting is disingenuous, it could, should, and used to be completely separate.

      Its also not anonymous.

      1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Those social networks only harvest what you choose to feed them

        Err, not true. FarceBork builds a profile on you even if you have never visited their site or agreed to them doing it. This profile is "quite detailed". Ever noticed those sites with the FarceBork "F" on them ? Well they are one source of information for that profile.

        What's more, that personal information is exported back to the USA without even informing the data subject let alone asking them. I suggest you look up the details of the Max Schrems vs Facebook case - yes the one that resulted in Safe Harbour getting ripped up and replaced with Privacy FigleafShield, which will similarly get ripped up when the machinations of multiple levels of bureaucracy and courts get done with it.

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