Is Windows 11 spying on you?
Do you know what goes on as you happily turn on your Windows 11 system to perform your regular (and perhaps some irregular) activities? Bingo! Like government agencies and big tech, Microsoft is a bit of a voyeur, too.
This might not be news for some. This has been going on for so long that even books have been released about enhancing privacy in Windows 10. However, looks like they have outdone themselves with this latest Windows iteration.
The PC Security Channel has uploaded a YouTube video where they monitored Windows activity via Wireshark while using a brand-new Windows 11 laptop. Wireshark is a network monitoring tool that allows you to check and even analyze data coming and going from your system and into the network.
Aside from this, they monitored a Windows XP computer to gauge how the tide has changed when it comes to Windows’ efforts in spying on you. As it turns out, a lot has changed.
Everyone gets a cut of your data
If you thought Windows started spying on you when you connected to the Internet, think again. Windows 11 is into it even before you start doing anything. Just having Windows loaded means they’re getting loaded too, with your information.
This information goes to Microsoft mainly, but also to third parties. This is perhaps the most worrying part and it’s the reason why The PC Security Channel checked what kind of companies get this data.
Much of your activity goes to marketing and advertising-related companies, including software and antivirus developers. The antivirus telemetry, they noted, might be happening because of a trial version pre-installed on the new laptop.
Before you send me to read the manual and turn off telemetry settings on Windows 11, consider that all this was happening with the minimum settings available. There’s no way, at least no built-in way, to avoid this. And the thought of what happens when all telemetry settings are on makes me have nightmares at night.
How did Windows XP fare? Pretty good, actually. Telemetry was almost non-existent for the venerable OS, and the only connections it made were directed to Microsoft servers to check for updates. Ah, those were the times.
A sign of the times
Sure, there are tech advancements every day, but our era can be challenging for privacy-conscious people. You need to be on your constant guard, with everyone trying to get your data.
However, there’s no way around it if you expect to have modern features on your phone or computer. Logically, Google Maps collects your information to allow you to locate your position. Thus, it’s reasonable that Windows 11, with all its online functionality, will have the same requirements.
However, while Google Maps is free (at least at face value), Microsoft cashes in for every Windows 11 purchase, even if it came “for free” with your computer. Why do they squeeze your data, too, if they’re already profiting from sales?
Besides this, there’s a long process of normalizing these practices so the consumer will care less as time goes on, which will surely lead us to a Big Tech Dystopia and Machines fighting humans. Will that ever happen? Only history will tell.