Microsoft Freudian Slip - Admits Spying On You

(Gordon Kelly @ Forbes) "...In an attempt to illustrate just how much Windows 10 users love the new operating system, Microsoft rolled out stat after stat about growing adoption and momentum (Black Friday and Christmas play their part here). But then things got weird:

“One of the ways we measure our progress with Windows 10 is looking at how people are using Windows,” explained Microsoft Senior Vice President Yusuf Mehdi. “Recently we reached another milestone – people have spent over 11 billion hours on Windows 10 in December alone, spending more time on Windows than ever before.”

That’s a crazy amount, but what is even crazier is the revelation that Microsoft is tracking exactly how long every single user is using Windows 10. Then things got ever weirder as Mehdi announced: “Here are a few fun facts on what people have been doing on Windows 10”. They are as follows:

  1. Over 44.5 billion minutes spent in Microsoft Edge across Windows 10 devices in just the last month
  2. Over 2.5 billion questions asked of Cortana since launch
  3. Over 82 billion photos viewed within the Windows 10 Photo app
  4. In 2015 gamers spent over 4 billion hours playing PC games on Windows 10
  5. Gamers streamed over 6.6 million hours of Xbox One games to Windows 10 PCs

Yes, Microsoft admitted it not only logs its users time on Windows 10 but also their time using Microsoft Edge… and gaming… and streaming games… and counting your search queries… and every single time a user opens a photo.

Conspiracy theorists are welcome to go wild here, but I have a simpler end goal: Microsoft needs to come clean and state everything it tracks, exactly what can and cannot be stopped by users and why. Now let’s be clear: Windows 10 is Microsoft’s product so it has the right to do whatever it likes with it, but only after a full disclosure to customers of its practices so they can make an informed choice about whether or not they wish to be a part of this data gathering process.

None of this is too much to ask given Microsoft’s self admission that it is pushing Windows 7 and Windows 8 customers hard to upgrade. This includes some outrageous scaremongering and malware-style UI tricks. Contrary to common perception, Windows 10 also is no charity as Mehdi’s 200M celebratory post reveals the ‘free’ operating system actually generates 4.5x more revenue per device (presumably from the Windows Store) than Windows 8.

But the time for transparency is running out. By 2018 Microsoft aims to have one billion devices running Windows 10 and with that comes truly global reach and insight. The world deserves to know exactly what it is signing up for…"