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Microsoft removes a telemetry setting from Windows 10 and renames others

Microsoft removes a telemetry setting from Windows 10 and renames others

The company’s changes to its diagnostic data collection settings have debuted in a recent version of Insider, which means they won’t reach the imminent spring update.

Microsoft said last week that it would remove one of the diagnostic data collection settings from Windows 10 and rename two more.

The developer of Redmond, Washington, cited a 2019 effort to give customers of the company more control over the data collected by Microsoft. «As part of Microsoft’s initiative to increase transparency and data control, we’re making some changes to the Settings app and Group Policy settings that will begin appearing in versions of Windows Insider this month,» wrote Brandon LeBlanc, Senior Program Manager. , in a March 5 post on a company blog.

Windows Insider is Microsoft’s preview program that gives customers an early look at the Windows 10 build code. Diagnostic changes began in version 19577, which was released on March 5th.

Improved, leave!

Windows 10 was released with three telemetry settings: Basic, Enhanced and Full, then a fourth was added, Security. In ascending order of the amount of data that Microsoft collects, the four were Security, Basic, Enhanced, and Comprehensive.

Improved took the ax.

This setting included all the data collections specified by the security and basic options, then added additional types of information to the total Microsoft obtained from the machines. What Enhanced has improved are several operating system events, including Hyper-V and Cortana; specific events for applications included in Windows 10 or downloaded from the Microsoft Store; and all accident depots.

Microsoft claimed that the improved configuration recovered packages between 239 KB and 348 KB per day per device.

With version 19577, systems that were previously set to Enhanced were defaulted to Basic, the next lowest level of the collection amount, according to a message posted in the Insider section of Microsoft Answers.

Name changes

Once the enhanced settings are removed, Microsoft will rename the others.

The security option will be renamed «Disabled diagnostic data».

The basic element will be called «Required diagnostic data»

Completion will go through «Optional Diagnostic Data»

These labels do not better describe the environment they replaced – the originals were so boring that they made customers guess what they defined – and thus at least the advantage over Microsoft’s promise of transparency.

«Disabled diagnostic data», formerly Security, should be just like that, as Microsoft has long defined the option as «only the diagnostic data information needed to keep Windows devices … protected by the latest security updates.» . The company supports some collections (operating system, device ID, device class), but the option waives all content and user data that may affect the user, including the company name.

“Required diagnostic data” (previously basic) and “Optional diagnostic data” (labeled Completely above) are also more accurate, although none of them gave clues as to what can be collected, making them almost as inaccurate as their predecessors. The first «Required …» label may have been chosen because that level of telemetry was the default for Windows 10 since version 1903, last year’s spring update. The second, «Optional …» looks like a wildcard, which could be, which will include everything Microsoft wants to collect, which is not Mandatory.

Blurred telemetry

Because diagnostic changes are limited to Windows Insider and may not reach production-level versions for some time, it’s no wonder they haven’t been documented. Microsoft pointed this out, in fact.

«We will post additional information about revised diagnostic policies as we approach the public version,» the response said on Microsoft Answers.

Although renaming Basic and Full as «Required …» and «Optional …» seemed straightforward, removing the Enhanced level left the questions unanswered. Will the data collected in that setting scroll to «Optional …» or «Required …» or will it be split between the two? (It would not be typical for Microsoft and its telemetry practices to stop collecting a certain category of data.)

Microsoft was silent about the strange setting it introduced at the end of 2017, called «Enhanced (Limited)», which restricted data collection to the minimum required for the then Windows Analytics service (renamed «Desktop Analytics» when Microsoft withdrew the label at the end of January 2020). Business customers use the telemetry that Microsoft collects in Desktop Analytics to help make refresh and prep calls. Will there be something similar in «Required …» or «Optional …» with dropping the Enhanced feature?

Microsoft also did not suggest when these changes will come to non-internal customers. The compilation number for the Insider update in which the data collection changes occurred was higher than the one identified as the basis for Windows 10 2004, the first, perhaps the only feature update of the year (version 19041), which implies that the new telemetry settings I will not. make it the imminent update.

Microsoft’s discussions about transparency and control cease a little when much of the data collection nuts and bolts remain unclear.