All companies collect data on their customers, but some are better than others when it comes to being upfront about what kinds of data are collected.  Over the past year, Microsoft has made many moves that have been well-received by their enormous user base.  They've become increasingly transparent and offer an unprecedented level of control to the users themselves.

Last year, the company took its first major step, adding a pre-installation/pre-update Privacy Setting screen that allowed users to choose between two settings, Basic or Full, where global data collection was concerned.

Not long after, the company also added a Privacy section to the web dashboard of every Microsoft account, which allowed users to do things like:

  • Exporting any of the data found on the dashboard
  • Deleting specific items to allow for more individualized control
  • Viewing and managing media consumption data, along with product and service activity

The most recent addition is the release of an app called "Windows Diagnostic Data Viewer," currently available on the Windows Store.  Right now, the app is available only to Windows Insiders, but is slated for release to the general public in April or May of this year.

As the name of the app suggests, it will not allow users to delete or manipulate any of the data collected, but it will provide an in-depth view of what data is collected. This would, at the very least, give system administrators the option to explore methods of disabling selected features in a bid to mitigate data collection.

Although the company is providing more options and becoming increasingly transparent, it has no plans to stop collecting telemetry data, insisting that it is essential in terms of making incremental product improvements and rapidly solving bug reports.  Like it or not, data collection is here to stay.

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