Windows 10: data collecting all for the greater good

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 29, 2015
Updated • Jul 5, 2017
Windows, Windows 10

When it comes to Windows 10, Microsoft's new operating system, privacy is without doubt a hot topic. Ever since the operating system was released, fears about an all-seeing and reporting operating system were expressed by reviewers and users alike.

One of the core reasons for those fears was that Windows 10 was designed to deliver more data to Microsoft than previous versions of Windows.

The reporting defaults were mostly turned on if express setup was selected during installation, and users who customized privacy settings during setup or afterwards noticed that some options could not be turned off completely.

According to a new post by Terry Myerson, Microsoft's Executive Vice President of the Windows and Devices Group, on Microsoft's Blogging Windows site, that's all by design and in the best interest of the user.

Windows 10 was designed with two privacy principles: collecting data to make the product work better for the user, and to put the user in control in regards to the information the operating system collects.

Microsoft divides data into three levels on Windows 10.

Level 1: Safety and reliability data

Data that falls into this group include an anonymous device ID, device type and application crash data. Myerson notes that this does not include files or content, and that Microsoft has implemented safeguards to avoid collecting personally identifiable information such as email addresses or account IDs.

A great example of how this data was used effectively was just last month, when aggregate data showed us that a particular version of a graphics driver was crashing on some Windows 10 PCs, which then caused a reboot. This driver was not widely used, but still the issue was impacting customers. We immediately contacted the partner who builds the driver and worked with them to turn around a fix to Windows Insiders within 24 hours. We used the data on Insiders’ devices to confirm that the problem was resolved, and then rolled out the fix to the broad public via an update the next day – all-in-all, this data helped us find, fix and resolve a significant problem within 48 hours.

Level 2: Personalization data

In order to deliver a personalized Windows experience, Microsoft needs to know you better so that Windows can provide you with information and data that you consider useful.

..such as knowing whether you are a Seattle Seahawks fan or Real Madrid fan, in order to give you updates on game scores or recommend apps you might enjoy– or remembering the common words you type in text messaging conversations to provide you convenient text completion suggestions.

Level 3: Advertising data Microsoft's does not collect

Level 3 data is data that Microsoft does not collect. Myerson mentions email content, communication data or files.

Closing Words

Fact is, data collection cannot be turned off fully on all but Enterprise editions of Windows 10. This refutes the second privacy principle (You are in control with the ability to determine what information is collected) as controls are not provided to block all data collecting.

The only options home users and businesses get are to block level 2 data from being collected, and to reduce the amount of level 1 data that the operating system collects.

Now You: Would you give Windows 10 a chance if you could turn off all data collecting systems?

Windows 10: data collecting all for the greater good
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Windows 10: data collecting all for the greater good
Microsoft revealed why Windows 10 is collecting data in a new blog post on the official Blogging Windows blog.
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  1. Mike J. said on October 6, 2015 at 12:25 am
  2. Wayfarer said on October 2, 2015 at 3:18 am

    What is often missed is that geography comes into this too. For 90% of the world’s population, the USA is a foreign country. And not a particularly friendly or moral country.

    So what is data mining in the USA might well amount to espionage everywhere else. It’s just surprising how many of us really don’t want to be ‘saved’ by the US of A or their ‘intelligence’ agencies.

    1. Mike J. said on October 6, 2015 at 12:30 am

      And i for one wish the United States would stay home & stop fighting wars for other people, & when a plague, famine, flood, pogrom, earthquake, or other disaster happens, just say, ”Oh, that’s too bad.”

  3. MaulDropper said on September 30, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    “Would you give Windows 10 a chance if you could turn off all data collecting systems?”

    In 2015 they finally went too far, Microsoft can now pound sand.
    Any other big tech want to do this heresy? Your toast. You better check yourself.

    adding services, network tunnels, hotfixes all without permission.
    That was like a little freaking elf got drunk underneath the cover of my workstation trashing everything.

    IT will be the last time that happens here. BOFH has bitchslapped back
    MSNBC, Microsoft, windoLive, Timeservers, etc etc. is now blacklisted
    Your journalism was non-existant anyway, you pushed false science (man made climate change) while ignoring (man made SAG/SRM ops calling it “UFO style” conspiracy) and your TREASONOUS United Nations, then suggest eugenics as the sustainable solution!

    No your ICLEI isn’t welcom in my CITY COUNCIL either.
    And your CAFR needs to be audited.

    Why should anyone pay tax when Microsoft don’t?

    I digress. Stick a FORK in them.

  4. Flyer said on September 30, 2015 at 10:33 am

    It is not the end privacy “surprises”. You can remember my words. MS do everything to force users (free upgrade, silent patch with ad for other systems, etc.) to change the system to 10. Stealing personal data without the real possibility to stop it and without earlier information is definitely a reason to see, MS changes the business model and now it is time to say no-no for such upgrading.

  5. Howard said on September 30, 2015 at 12:57 am

    Well “greater good” seems never to be mentioned anywhere except title-related fields.

    Does this mean Martin and everyone else here ACTUALY believe the propaganda which is or might be used by the government ? :)

    I almost never here people talk about “greater good” unless it is political. This would apply to microsoft too …. maybe just the THEIR advertisements ?

    I will challenge it as merely propaganda in case microsoft is asked/told by the government to turn the data over :D

  6. HubTronics said on September 29, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    The Microsoft eco-system is in the worst state every due to the poor responses by Microsoft in relation to two main consumer concerns:
    1. Data Collection and Privacy concerns
    2. Forced Windows Updates that require a Microsoft hack to prevent broken device drivers which is ineffective.

    In the case of data and privacy, Microsoft has created a class system that is unacceptable – 1. Home and Professional Customers 2. Enterprise Customers where the privacy of Home, professional and small business customers is not important, yet enterprise customers get some protection. Why should those customers that can not justify the high cost of enterprise versions or that only have a small number of devices not be able to protect their computer environment or privacy the same as enterprise customers?

    In the case of forced Windows Updates the tool developed by Microsoft as a hack to uninstall certain updates proved to be ineffective, take the example ported by hundreds of Windows insiders: Synaptics TouchPad drivers, this update remains broken and never addressed by Microsoft. For Microsoft to suggest that the data collection policy is successful in providing quick resolution to issues is a joke.

    As an ISV, we are extremely disappointed that Microsoft is not listening to our customers, by not adequately addressing these concerns we have many customers that will not move to Windows 10, This questions our development directions.

    Having met with government ministers, legal services and customers it is a significant concern that needs to be addressed by Microsoft today.

  7. Njoi said on September 29, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    Lol so this is one of those websites where all the tin hat wearing people meet. How silly do you have to be to think that microsoft not only has any interest your data, but is also willing to risk their reputation (and therefore their business) to steal your data. Windows 10 is fantastic and by far the best OS out there. Its incredibly fast even on old hardware, very secure and incredibly versatile.

    1. Jeff said on September 30, 2015 at 6:19 am

      How’s the kool aid? I hear it’s delicious. Are you getting sleepy yet?

    2. NotOrwellian said on September 29, 2015 at 11:03 pm

      How’s the weather in Redmond?

      1. Tom Hawack said on September 29, 2015 at 11:15 pm

        LOL! :)

    3. DVD Rambo said on September 29, 2015 at 10:53 pm

      Njoi: It’s been a while since I read such a well written MS fanboy comment. Nice job using the word incredibly twice in the last sentence.

      The purpose of any operating system is to let users run programs to get things done. Windows 10 adds some features to help one do that. It also does things that no one expected and many don’t want it to do. One may accept things as they are, or work to change the aspects that are not acceptable. In some cases, this will lead computer users to Linux. Linux user share has climbed from ~1% in 2008 to ~1.8% today. Windows is no longer the only option for a desktop or laptop PC.

      1. Pants said on September 30, 2015 at 1:18 am

        “Nice job using the word incredibly twice in the last sentence” – Cortana still needs more work and TELEMETRY :p

    4. Tom Hawack said on September 29, 2015 at 10:32 pm

      Don’t take our word. Wherever you go (on the Web) you’ll find debates concerning Windows 10 privacy issues, it’s neither a gHacks nor a gHacks readers’ way of life, which you should know if you came here more often and which you shouldn’t evoke when ignorant.

      There is no Windows 10 haste here, in fact haste is not the engine of this place. It just happens that here as elsewhere many of us are struggling with a Windows 10 widely known and debated privacy issue. No haste, and if you are happy, fine. Nevertheless you are sending personal data to many servers, but if it doesn’t bother you then there is no problem. You know, not everyone feels concerned by privacy, don’t feel bothered.

  8. Nader said on September 29, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    Run→ Regedit→ Machine→ Software→ Policies→ Microsoft→ Windows→ DataCollection→ Right click
    DWORD (32-bit)
    Name: AllowTelemetry
    Value: 0

    Check Settings→Feedback & diagnostics
    “Send your device date to microsoft” is now grayd out..

    1. Corky said on September 30, 2015 at 10:20 am

      Greyed out normally means the UI is disabled, although I’m happy to be corrected on that.
      Further, according to Microsoft applying a setting of “0” what they call “Security level” for telemetry gathering may prevent you from receiving security updates, that’s if applying a setting on “0” even works on anything other than Enterprise versions.
      If your organization relies on Windows Update for updates, you shouldn’t use the Security level. Because no Windows Update information is gathered at this level, Microsoft can’t tell whether an update successfully installed.

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on September 29, 2015 at 7:17 pm

      According to Group Policy, 0 is equal to 1 if you are not running Enterprise.

  9. RottenScoundrel said on September 29, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    It is not just that kind of data, it is the third parties they allow to take stuff that they don’t mention. Things that send off what app you have just started, to just mention one. Wireshark is your friend. :) But, it will scare the crap out of you when you see what is leaving your PC, and not just when using a browser.

    I am almost 90% Ubuntu now. If only Wine could run that last few things I would kiss msoft goodbye. But, sadly it seems development has stalled on Wine. Maybe with win10 lies and thievery, someone will pick up the strings for Wine and move it along.

  10. hirobo2 said on September 29, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    Windows 10 looks like shite. If they would reskin it to at least look like XP and turn off “telemetry” by default, I might give it a try.

    IMHO having one look for all device types was a bad move by Microsoft. What they should have done was have all that bland stuff for phones ONLY. But also create a second more-pleasing to look at theme for desktops and laptops.

    1. DVD Rambo said on September 29, 2015 at 10:43 pm

      Classic Shell will do most of what you want. I’ve even used a green XP start button for one customer who hated change, but had to deal with it.

  11. Tom Hawack said on September 29, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    I was at first enthusiast about announced Windows 10. Then came pushy — very pushy — incentives to “getting ready” for Windows 10 delivered via the Windows Updates, that I declined as I declined all updates related to Windows 10 : I don’t like being pushed around. I decided then to wait and see how Windows 10 would make its way and mainly users’ feedback, articles and so on.

    What has been going on since July 29th 2015? We all know that Win10’s data collecting systems is the major topic when it comes to Microsoft’s latest OS. How many applications on the market at this time to prevent, circumvent, kill these data collectors? Countless! How many joyful comments about a Win10 revelation of the century? Tell me where I can read them.

    So, IMO, Win10 is a terrific joke. Still, to answer the article’s question : yes, I would give Windows 10 a chance if I could turn off all data collecting systems. Of course I would, stubbornness is as idiot as demagogy. I’d love to love Win10. But I just don’t happen to meet one argument to motivate me.

  12. Max said on September 29, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    The ability to turn off *all* data collecting systems *and* advertising delivery systems would be a helpful move in the right direction, but due to the inability to know the purpose of updates and the ability to refuse them, how could we be sure that they wouldn’t reintroduce data collection or some other undesirable features later?

    Now if I could pick and choose updates too, it might become more attractive. If they returned to the previous model of selling new versions every few years instead of continuous upgrades, then it would be more attractive still. As it is, I’ll be avoiding it for the foreseeable future – maybe indefinitely.

  13. NotOrwellian said on September 29, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    Sadly, whatever Microsoft does won’t matter.

    Here’s why:

    The masses don’t care. As long as they get their fix of the Kardasians and access to Walmart, they’ll be happy. They don’t care what the NSA or Microsoft, Google and Amazon know about them. “I don’t have anything to hide” is an excuse just not to bother with it.

    MS will accommodate the enterprise customer because after all, that’s the hand that feeds them. Ent customers want to keep control and info for both protection from hacks and their own employee control. So they won’t have major issues with it.

    It’s amazing that for the rest of us (the minority) we are subject to either go with either linux or rely on hackers and others outliers of all colors and stripes to come up with ways to at least slow down the invasion of privacy.

    The real question in all of this: If the bad guys already know that all their internet activities are being watched and monitored, why does the Gov/Corporate orgs need to monitor everything? IMHO, because they can. They figure that if the ever need to go after one person, all they have to do is an internal search. Why not have leverage in case you ever need it.

    It’s a shame that so many good men have up their lives for their county, their bodies and minds to fight for freedom, to defend an ideal only to have it taken away with a few keystrokes by a few who’s name we may never know.

    1. Decent60 said on September 30, 2015 at 2:49 am

      I have to ask you, how can the government tell the difference between the bad guy and the regular guys? Simple: because they are monitoring everything. With the millions of people out there, it’s hard to just pick them out of a crowd, they have to monitor their activities.This is why the bad guys “know” their activities are being monitored. Tho, in retrospect, it’s not doing much good now, is it? At least to the public eye it isn’t. There might be more going on behind the scenes but over-all, it just seems like the government being over-paranoid.

  14. swamper said on September 29, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    Folks can thank the roughly 3″x5″ mindless device they keep in their pockets for the steps Microsoft has taken with 8 and 10. The majority of users just flat don’t care about data collection. They typically do not understand the ramifications and do not “want” to try to learn how to turn it off. Location Services on Android is my case in point here. My entire (rather large) extended family is my proof. People will flat out set there and stare at the desktop without a clue where to go and change a setting. Instead of trying to dig through the menus they throw their hands in the air and say they don’t know how. Microsoft, Apple, and Android devs all have the telemetry data that proves that. Folks like me that fix a few PC’s also get to see that proof first hand. Till you “fix” the majority of “users” and affect market share your not going to change anything in the Corporations that make the OS’s do with software. Folks that do care about all that stuff are to date a minority in Windows PC userland. The majority wants web access with Facebook/Twitter and could care about nothing else.

    I have run dual boot since 2002 on multiple PC’s with Windows and several different Linux variants. I typically spend months without booting into Windows. Gaming alone is what makes me go back to Windows. My two cents on the Linux talk is Ubuntu or Debian running MATE or XFCE. Stay away from Gnome 3. I moved to MATE after the Gnome devs lost their mind (just as it appears the MS devs have done with Win 8 and 10) and never looked back. My “don’t know how” wife can figure out how to use a Debian MATE setup and has never used anything but Windows. Which is why my recommend for MATE and XFCE. They are not Windows but users don’t feel as if they no longer have opposable thumbs when using it. My Debian and Ubuntu recommend is based on packages. Nobody is making a distro that comes close to the amount of packages they have available. Support is also a big issue here. If you run into a problem in those two distro’s Google it. Somebody else has more than likely already had your problem. A fix can be found and will more than likely already be in a bug report to get fixed.

    Many Linux Distros today are what I consider prime time ready. The average Windows user should have little to no problem moving to Linux. When I started with Linux the drivers typically didn’t work and you had to configure lot’s of the hardware from the command line. You may or may not have ever seen a GUI when you installed. That is not so today. Pretty much all the top Linux Distro’s will install and show you a nice pretty GUI desktop after it boots up.

    Most folks that run Linux are people that do care about what their software does or does not do with regards to security or anything else for that matter. The Linux users “want” to know what their OS is doing. The difference in user shares between Linux and Windows I feel bears out what the “want” to folks are using as an OS.

  15. Mystique said on September 29, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    ChaletOS might be an option to those which enjoy the windows GUI but overall I would probably more inclined to use some sort of LinuxMint variant. :)

  16. yogi said on September 29, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    Microsoft has lost their way. They don’t understand that single, simple business tenet – the customer is always right. They are so blinded by their own megalomania that they think they know what’s best for their users but they are not really listening. Like others, I am moving to Linux but I’m not waiting – I am moving today. Goodbye Microsoft. Hello Linux. :-)

  17. Jeff said on September 29, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    Anyone know what is the go to utility for quickly disabling all this Win 10 crap in one go? I know Martin did an article on them once, but that was a while back. I was wondering if there’s a solid choice now for the best ‘disable W10’s garbage’ all at once tool.

    Myself, sticking with Win 7 till the bitter end, but I’m looking for something for friends/relatives.

    Hopefully in 4 years, PC gaming will be mainstream on Linux.

    1. Decent60 said on September 29, 2015 at 2:29 pm

      DoNotSpy10 is the one I use and is one that Martin recommended. You have to do a custom install so that you don’t get the bloatware that comes with it but it works very nice. Only problem I find is that it doesn’t show what’s already disabled or enabled.

      1. Jeff said on September 30, 2015 at 3:03 pm

        Thanks, I’ll give that a try.

  18. Thomas D said on September 29, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    “Would you give Windows 10 a chance if you could turn off all data collecting systems?”

    I might if there were independent third-party verification of this. I wouldn’t hold my breath. It truly breaks my heart and soul to see what Microsoft have done to Windows, post 7, and their loyal and somewhat locked-in, customers. It is really such a shame.

    Shipping Windows 8, sans the bloody Start Menu! are you out of your frickin’ mind?

    Then, Windows 10, sans any pretense of respect for personal privacy or trust, plus a completely mangled Start Menu, worse than Windows 7.

    With Windows 10 Microsoft has lost the last bastion of trust a home and business user had in their computing, despite the poppycock from Ed Bott, et al.

    I’ve been running Linux Mint on my backup laptop for nearly 5 months and love it now, after teething issues and learning Linux. I have to run some form of Windows for now because of work, but with web services, that will soon change.

    Yes, Windows 7 will be my last Windows also.

  19. NotOrwellian said on September 29, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    Now You: Would you give Windows 10 a chance if you could turn off all data collecting systems?

    Isn’t this what some of the privacy programs do? (i.e. Destroy Windows Spying, etc).

    That is the ONLY way I would venture into W10.

    1. Decent60 said on September 29, 2015 at 2:33 pm

      Unless you have Enterprise edition of Windows, there is no way to shut off the data collection completely. Even then, there are minor things still being sent out that they haven’t fully explained properly the reasoning behind it. They claim it’s due to being part of the same system that is there when the service is running but that doesn’t explain why it’s still sending out if the service has been disabled.

  20. Yuliya said on September 29, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    More Metro nonsense, even compared to 8, ugly, buggy, ads.. nothankyou. I’ll keep 7 ^^ Why fix it, if it ain’t broken? After all it’s my PC, not Micro$oft’s.

    “user in control in regards to the information the operating system collects” yet you can’t disable it. Simply loltastic. Couldn’t expect anything different from M$ these days.

    1. Nebulus said on September 29, 2015 at 1:15 pm

      @Yuliya: Microsoft is doing all they can to make sure your computer become theirs… Of course this doesn’t work for everyone, but I suppose that it works for a large enough number of people to be worthy for them.
      Also, collecting information about users is a trend nowadays, and unfortunately MS quickly jumped inside that boat without second thoughts.

  21. theMike said on September 29, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    I installed windows 10, turned off all the privacy features, messed with it for a day, refreshed it, made a macrium image incase I might want it in the furure and went back to KDE where I feel safe

    1. DVD Rambo said on September 29, 2015 at 10:38 pm

      Wisdom is strong in this one. Good smart moves in every way.

  22. dan said on September 29, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    Martin: I think we need a review of Linux variants.

  23. Richard said on September 29, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    Good security begins with TNO—Trust No One—which includes Microsoft. QED.

    1. Decent60 said on September 29, 2015 at 2:38 pm

      And yet, you still use an OS created by someone else, a web browser created by someone else and an ISP operated by someone else.

  24. IgHive said on September 29, 2015 at 11:14 am

    Will move to Linux as well in 2020.

  25. yoav said on September 29, 2015 at 10:12 am

    After Windows 7 I’m moving to Linux, and frankly, I can’t wait.

    1. Dave said on September 29, 2015 at 10:46 am

      Ubuntu spies on you in many of the same ways, so don’t pick that one.

      1. yoav said on September 29, 2015 at 12:45 pm

        Linux Mint seems nice and easy

      2. User said on September 29, 2015 at 12:37 pm

        Not true. They used Amazon search suggestions 3 years ago which was privacy violation, now it’s clean.

        Anyway, Ubuntu is bloated and is very slow on my computer so i decided to use Xubuntu, it’s much better.

  26. dan said on September 29, 2015 at 9:46 am

    I have no choice but to work with Windows as I specialize in SQL Server admin and development for a living. But at home, Win 7 is the last OS I will use; switching to Linux after that.

  27. Nebulus said on September 29, 2015 at 9:35 am

    I will give Win10 a chance only when none of the hardware I will own at that moment will work on another Windows version – and thus I will have no choice when it comes to gaming or work.

  28. Corky said on September 29, 2015 at 9:18 am

    Since when has there been such a thing as an “anonymous device ID” anonymous means not identified, ID is the abbreviated form of identification, they seem to be saying it’s anonymous in so much as there’s no name attached to it, but at the same time saying they do identify you by your unique device.

    He then goes onto say how they don’t collect email content, communication data or files, but at the same time says they collect data on whether I’m a Seattle Seahawks fan or Real Madrid fan, and that they remember common words I type in text messaging conversations, since when has text messaging not been a form of communication data?

    All in all it seems this blog post by Myerson is nothing more than spin for gullibly people.

    1. jern said on September 30, 2015 at 12:23 am

      In 2013 Microsoft said the following in response to a Guardian article titled “Microsoft handed the NSA access to encrypted messages.”

      “Finally when we upgrade or update products legal obligations may in some circumstances require that we maintain the ability to provide information in response to a law enforcement or national security request. “

      I didn’t see any mention of that in Meyerson’s post. Of what use is information to the NSA if it is not personally identifiable? Like Corky says, Myerson’s post “is nothing more than spin for gullibly people.”

    2. Decent60 said on September 29, 2015 at 2:22 pm

      Something about your “anonymous ID” : If they’re collecting data, then there is nothing truly anonymous. Whether it’s a “report number” that came, data collected by data and time, data sorted by Video card type, data sorted by process, it’s all a form of ID. What he is stating there is something that given to your computer’s report so that it stackable with previous reports so they can monitor what kind of setups are going on and having the issue, also to note that whether it’s 10million different computers having issue or 100,000 computers reporting in 100 times about the issue. It’s not reporting that there are more people in central Florida or central California or central London, England or southeast China or where-ever. It’s also, more than likely, not something that can directly traced back t your computer by any standard means, to which i don’t have a problem with and probably is the way they’ve been doing the “send report to microsoft and check for online solutions” system since Windows 2000.
      I do have a problem with them not giving us the choice whether we want our particular problem to be send to them. During testing, I intentionally try to crash the system and see how well it bounces back from it. This can be cause by known flaws or simply just using up all the RAM and maxing out the CPU. Doesn’t mean I want to waste the 5-ish minutes it takes to send that data to Microsoft as that would not do either of us any good.

      In their example, if I recall properly, the fix for the driver error was caused by an update that they released, so of course they’re going to fix that soon and include it as a positive.

      Your second paragraph has to do mainly with Cortana and their Bing search.
      However, if you own a cellphone, it’s been doing that to you also and just like a cellphone, it can be disabled in Windows 10 also. If you don’t believe me, then look at your phone’s keyboard when typing and the Suggest Text field. It suggests and/or predicts words based upon your typing pattern. Knowing your sports team is same with “OK Google” or “Siri” or Google Search and Bing Search (based upon your IP address and location vs how many people searched for it) or even the fact that you search for it in the Sports app.

      Please note I don’t like how much companies are monitoring what we’re doing and collecting the data, anonymously or not. However, some people will take things out of context and use it as a negative instead of taking what it truly is.

      1. Corky said on September 29, 2015 at 2:47 pm

        While I don’t think Microsoft is doing it, saying they can’t find your physical location or uniquely identify you from an error report is, IMHO, wrong, that’s unless these error reports don’t contain IP addresses.

        It’s not something I think Microsoft is doing, there’s easier ways to track W10 users after all, but given enough data it’s a fairly simple task to reconstruct data from may different source to uniquely identify someone.

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