Microsoft Refutes Reports That It Is Covertly Harvesting Windows 10 Activity History Data
Microsoft is looking to clear the air regarding a Windows 10 "feature" that was widely reported yesterday. Activity History is a feature that allows you to view a log of tasks that you have performed on all of your logged-in devices, and was first introduced with the Windows 10 April 2018 Update earlier this year.
However, users were finding that even with Activity History disabled on their systems, app history could still be pulled up via the Microsoft Privacy Dashboard website (account.microsoft.com). Needless to say, many people were up in arms about this discovery, and Microsoft says that it's all a big misunderstanding.
In a statement emailed to HotHardware, Microsoft clarifies the situation, writing:
Microsoft is committed to customer privacy, being transparent about the data we collect and use for your benefit, and we give you controls to manage your data. In this case, the same term “Activity History” is used in both Windows 10 and the Microsoft Privacy Dashboard. Windows 10 Activity History data is only a subset of the data displayed in the Microsoft Privacy Dashboard. We are working to address this naming issue in a future update.
This appears to jive with a hypothesis from How to Geek. The publication wrote yesterday, "We think the 'Activity History' page in the Privacy Dashboard has an incorrect name. It’s not part of the Windows 10 'Activity History' feature, which is associated with the Timeline."
In order to stop all Windows from sending all of your app history data to Microsoft, you will have to switching your diagnostic settings under Diagnostics & Feedback to "Basic". You will also need to disable the "Send my activity history to Microsoft" setting.
All in all, it's a rather confusing situation for users, and one that could have been avoided if Microsoft was clearer about its data collection practices. Thankfully, it looks as though the company is making the right move by clarifying its privacy settings in a future Windows 10 update.