Is Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Spying on its Users by Collecting Usage Data?

Microsoft Campus
A building on the Microsoft Headquarters campus is pictured July 17, 2014 in Redmond, Washington. (Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

With the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) made sure that it reaches a large group of potential customers by making it free initially for those who are using Windows 7 and 8.

Yusuf Mehdi, Corporate VP of Windows and Devices Group, issued a statement in which he mentioned that Windows 10 was active on over 200 million devices. As per company’s blog, some very impressing milestones have been achieved in December 2015.

  1. In December 2015 itself, people have spent more than 11 billion hours on Windows 10.
  2. 0.71 billion hours were spent on Microsoft Edge.
  3. Over 82 billion photos were viewed on Windows 10 photo applications.
  4. 4 billion hours were spent on Windows 10 PC games.
  5. 6.6 million hours of Xbox One games were streamed on Windows 10 PC.
  6. More than 2.5 billion questions were asked to Cortana since its launch.
  7. In comparison to previous Windows platforms, a 30% increase was recorded on Bing searches.

These stats look promising to those who are fond of Windows products, but those who prefer their privacy over anything are not happy with this. The detailed achievements show that Windows 10 is collecting more user data than experts anticipated. It is normal for software companies to collect limited user data as it is helpful in developing a better version of the software, but according to privacy experts, what Microsoft is doing is outrageous.

According to Microsoft, the data collected is for the greater good and it will help the company to get rid of bugs and issue better and safer patches for Windows 10 in the future. But Microsoft is not giving any official statement on how and to what extent they are collecting user data and how it will be used. They are enjoying the milestones of 2015 with great enthusiasm, but they have to come up clean and transparent in 2016.

No one will act against a software giant for collecting user data if it done in moderation, keeping the users in the loop but if a software giant like Microsoft collects data to this extent and that too without giving users an easy way to disable it, they may get in trouble very soon. Users; privacy concerns should be a top priority. Data collection is almost avoidable as a lot of devices are connected to each other, but the user should have the option to disable data collection on his/her device.