Managing Data Connections Available in Windows 10 for Enterprise & Public Sector Customers

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At Microsoft, we take our commitment to our customers’ trust and privacy very seriously. In addition, Microsoft recognizes the desire for our customers to receive regular communication about what we’re working on internally and the choices available to them. This is in part why we have been sharing our Windows privacy journey for the last several years and have been sharing updates about more recent privacy changes in Office ProPlus. We understand the importance of continuing the dialogue about our approach of putting customers in control and providing guidelines and reminders on how to deploy and use privacy settings.

Earlier this year, Microsoft detailed steps we are taking to give all customers – including enterprise and public sector customers in Europe – greater transparency and control over the data shared with Microsoft when they use our products and services. We also shared that the response to these steps in Europe has been positive.

Data Controls Available in Windows 10 Enterprise edition

As we shared earlier this year, Windows 10 is one of the major products for which we are categorizing all data we collect from devices as either required or optional. Data in the required category will consist of data that is necessary to make our products and services work as expected by the customer, and to help ensure they are up to date and secure. Data in the optional category will not be essential to the product or service experience, and customers will be able to control the collection of optional data independently from choosing to use specific product features or functions. For most customers, using these settings meets their needs for minimizing data collection to the most essential data required for keeping Windows devices up-to-date, secure, and performing as expected.

While most of our customers rely on and value Microsoft’s security updates to keep their Windows devices secure, some customers want more control of all aspects of their data and device management. We recognize the important role that an operating system has in empowering end users to be productive and also the need for organizations to manage their data and the data from their end users. For these reasons, Microsoft has focused on providing extensive privacy controls in Windows 10 to meet varying needs. In direct response to customer feedback, we made settings available in Windows 10 Enterprise to control data connections to Microsoft. These settings can be configured by an IT administrator using either the instructions for managing these controls via Group Policy or Mobile Device Management. The controls for each data connection can be configured individually or as a whole to limit data collection.

We made these settings available starting with Windows 10 1607 to our customers who want to limit the data flowing to Microsoft. With each major Windows 10 feature update we test these settings to ensure customers are in control of the data sent to Microsoft. While only a select few customers have chosen this route, we recognize the importance of making this option available by ensuring customers have access to the documentation and guidelines they need to evaluate and implement this approach. We do advise customers to carefully consider their IT infrastructure and resources before choosing this approach. These settings effectively disable security updates and other functionality of Windows that is often a first line of defense from evolving malware and security vulnerabilities, so it will require the customer to fully manage Windows security updates on their own.

Increasing customer transparency has been a part of the Windows 10 product roadmap. Other examples of our transparency commitment include our diagnostic data documentation and the Diagnostic Data Viewer, a Windows app that lets you review diagnostic data sent to Microsoft from Windows and Office ProPlus. The app groups the information into diagnostic events and categories and enables you to filter between categories.

We remain committed, through all of the controls we provide in Windows 10, to ensuring customers have the privacy controls in their operating system that meet their needs.

Moving Forward

Bringing greater clarity and functionality to our privacy experience and controls is critical to building and keeping your trust in our products and services. As we move forward, we are constantly assessing how we can be more transparent and provide our customers with more and more control over their data. The foundation for these efforts is our focus on staying in touch with our customers to answer their questions, understand their concerns, and develop new capabilities and features that improve the performance, security, and privacy of our products and services. In the months ahead, we look forward to sharing more news and updates about the progress we are making in our journey to use what we learn from our customers to guide our work to improve our privacy features, capabilities, and practices.


Marisa Rogers
Windows, Browsers and Devices Privacy Officer