Software

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

Diagnostic Data Viewer gives users a peek into what Redmond gathers from your PC

By Shaun Nichols in San Francisco

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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 computer's device name, OS version, and serial number, as well as more detailed records such as installed apps, preference settings, and details on each application's usage, are beamed back to Microsoft.

The idea, says the Office giant, is to let users know exactly what data is being collected and kicked into the company's cloud each time their PC sends a diagnostics report back to the mothership.

"Our commitment is to be fully transparent on the diagnostic data collected from your Windows devices, how it is used, and to provide you with increased control over that data," said Windows and Device Group privacy officer Marisa Rogers on Wednesday.

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

Microsoft says the Diagnostic Data Viewer will run separately from the Windows Privacy Dashboard that is bundled with Windows 10. That app will also be upgraded to provide users with more information on data collection, including activity history for the user's Microsoft account.

Microsoft is also planning an update to the app to allow users to export dashboard reports, view media consumption information, and delete reported data (for some reason this isn't already allowed).

The Dashboard and Data Viewer apps arrive after Microsoft was taken to task by governments for what many saw as overly intrusive data collection by Windows 10.

Microsoft has since added new privacy controls to let users control what gets sent back to Redmond. ®

PS: Yeah, macOS also phones home telemetry from your Mac. Grab something like Little Snitch to see it in action, and block any unwanted connections, or complain to Apple. Thing is, virtually everyone uses Windows, which is why so many people get upset about its data collection.

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