When Microsoft released a technical preview of the upcoming Windows 10 operating system back in 2014, word got out pretty quickly that the operating system shipped with keylogging functionality that was turned on by default.
Microsoft admitted that it collects inking and typing data, and that the data is sent to Microsoft servers. The current version of the Speech, Inking and Typing FAQ on Microsoft’s Privacy website states:
When your Diagnostic and usage data setting (Settings > Privacy > Feedback & diagnostics) is set to Full, your inking and typing input data is sent to Microsoft, and we use this data in the aggregate to improve the inking and typing platform for all users.
While some users objected that Microsoft collects typing and inking data at all and sends it to company servers, others disliked the opt-in nature of the feature and that Microsoft did not really reveal to users that it was doing such a thing in the first place.
Windows admins and users can turn off some privacy settings during setup, but the list of privacy related settings is much larger in the Settings application. If you add policies and Registry keys to that, you end up with a large list of privacy preferences. Even if you modify them all, you will notice that Windows 10 continues to communicate with Microsoft servers.
Microsoft’s position is clear: it uses the data to improve keyboard predictions and inking recognition for all users. Privacy conscious users on the other hand would like to be — at the very least — asked before any sensitive data leaves the operating system.
Microsoft could have done a better job at communicating privacy sensitive areas of the operating system to users.
Windows 10 Spring Creators Update: privacy changes
Options to disable the “keylogging” functionality have been available in all versions of Windows 10 released by Microsoft since the release of the first technical preview.
On systems running the Fall Creators Update or earlier versions of Windows 10, users and admins may turn off the collecting and sending of typing and inking data in the following way:
- Use Windows-I to open the Settings application.
- Switch to Privacy.
- Select Speech, inking & typing.
- Activate the button “turn off speech services and typing suggestions” so that it reads “turn on speech services and typing suggestions”.
- Go to Feedback & Diagnostics (in Privacy).
- Switch Diagnostic and usage data to basic.
The Spring Creators Update includes changes to the process.
The Privacy settings separates privacy related settings in groups with important pages listed at the top in the sidebar. You find speech, inking & typing, and diagnostics & feedback in the first group.
Do the following to disable the collecting and sending of typing and inking data in the Spring Creators Update:
- Use the Windows-I shortcut to open the Settings app.
- Select Privacy.
- Open Diagnostics & Feedback.
- Switch from Full to Basic under Diagnostic Data.
- Locate “improve inking & typing recognition” and flip the setting to off.
- Switch to the page “Speech, inking & typing”.
- Make sure speech services and typing suggestions is turned off.
Improve inking & typing recognition
Send inking and typing data to Microsoft to improve the language recognition and suggestion capabilities of apps and services running on Windows
The setup of the Spring Creators Update includes two new privacy options options: find my device and “inking & typing”. Inking & Typing lets admins and users turn off the sending of inking and typing data right then and there.
The new version of Windows 10 reveals more about collected Telemetry data; users may browse the collected data and delete it.
Now You: Do you run Windows 10? Have you modified settings?
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