Windows 10: Cortana and your Privacy

Cortana is in fact a feature first in Windows 10 – Siri still isn’t featured in OS X and I don’t believe Linux has a personal assistant. Sadly, however, I haven’t been able to use Cortana because it ‘requires’ (or Microsoft requires) for you to let Microsoft collect a lot of data about you and have location services turned on. And you can call me a privacy freak, but I ensure you I’m not, I use Google now and have loads of data stored online. But I don’t want Microsoft to be able to look at my files or utilise my computers to install updates for other Windows users. Essentially, I want the same level of privacy on Windows 10 that I had on Windows 7. Even with Cortana turned off, there are a lot, seriously loads of settings you’ll need to turn off in order to regain your privacy. This video will show you how to do that and they’ll probably be overridden in the next Windows update which you have no control over. Whilst I doubt Microsoft wants to use your data for evil and I believe they have good intentions, they will happily give it all away if the NSA come knocking. I am not doing shady business on my PC by the way, I just have always felt I could trust that only I knew what I was doing on my PC, in Windows 10 spyware seems to come out of the box. Perhaps, my view of the PC as the holey untouched digital device are dated, but I still view my PC as very separate to the web (only connected when I want it to be).

I mentioned briefly that you have no control over when updates are installed. However, this is probably for the better and more good will come from the extra security than the lack of controls. Updating software is essential not only for bug fixes, but also for security updates and most users don’t think about updates. In fact, they’re a nuisance. Windows has always been known for constant overly pushy update messages. I even remember, my friend’s mum objecting to him installing Windows on his Mac because it always bugs you for updates. And don’t worry it won’t start updating whilst you’re performing mission critical tasks, like brushing up your food pics in Lightroom.

Windows 10 update options

As you can see you have some, but very limited control and Windows will only install updates when you’re not using your PC

Privacy is not security and Windows 10 is actually really secure. I am no privacy guru so I am not aware of the improvements Microsoft have made, but Windows 10 is as secure if not more so than OS X. Viruses, malware and spyware are still things you’ll need to avoid and I recommend you run a program like Malwarebytes as well as Windows Defender, but the operating itself is far less vulnerable than 7 and even 8.1. Furthermore, new password types have been added, like pass codes and the new Windows Hello service that allows for you to login with your face or finger. My favourite new password feature, however, is the ability to sign in with different methods. If I forget my pin, I can sign in with Microsoft account password (having already set it up).


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