A series of recent real-world tests shows that Windows 10 continues to send identifiable information to Microsoft even if a user turns off both the Bing search and Cortana features, and turns all of the privacy settings to on.
The series of practical tests makes it clear that Windows 10 still “phones home”to Microsoft even when all privacy settings are enabled. Privacy experts note some of this contact is just basic and unidentifiable testing for an internet connection that is to be expected, but some of the information sent to and requested by Microsoft is associated with the firm’s One Drive cloud storage service and a content delivery network, and includes a user identification number.
More details Windows 10 privacy concerns
One example of a privacy concern with Windows 10 is that, even with Cortana and web searching from the Start menu turned off, opening Start will initiate a request to www.bing.com to request a file called threshold.appcache which appears to contain some Cortana information. The Ars Technicas staff noted that the request for this file contains a random machine ID that lasts even after reboots.
The report also notes that “Some of the traffic looks harmless but feels like it shouldn’t be happening.” As one example, they note that even with no Live tiles pinned to Start (and therefore no need to poll for new tile data), Windows 10 downloads new tile info from MSN’s network from time to time, using unencrypted HTTP. Although the requests do not have identifying information, there’s no obvious reason for this to be happening at all.
Some of the privacy issues are more serious. For some reason, Windows 10 regularly sends data to a Microsoft server called ssw.live.com. This server is connected to OneDrive and other services. The problem is the new OS automatically transmits information to the server even when OneDrive is off and using a local account that isn’t connected to a Microsoft Account. Exactly what data is being sent is not obvious, although it seems to be connected telemetry settings, but the same question arises — why is any data being sent at all?