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Microsoft shows off just how much data it’s collecting from Windows 10 users

January 6, 2016

Despite its continued insistence that Windows 10 isn’t spying on anyone, Microsoft has done little to convince the majority of concerned users that its latest operating system isn’t taking more data than it needs.

In order to reinforce its claim, Microsoft updated its privacy policy to clarify how and when the OS utilizes user data, but the company took two steps back this week when it published an enthusiastic blog post filled with data mined from users.

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On Monday morning, Yusuf Mehdi, Corporate VP of the Windows and Devices Group, revealed that Windows 10 is now active on an astonishing 200 million devices. Its low price of “free” is clearly the primary factor contributing to its rapid growth, but it doesn’t hurt that the software is leaps and bounds more user-friendly than its predecessor.

But in order to illustrate just how popular Windows 10 has become, Microsoft felt the need to share some milestones:

People have spent over 11 billion hours on Windows 10 in December alone.
Over 44.5 billion minutes spent in Microsoft Edge across Windows 10 devices in just the last month.
Over 2.5 billion questions asked of Cortana since launch.
Around 30% more Bing search queries per Windows 10 device vs. prior versions of Windows.
Over 82 billion photos viewed within the Windows 10 Photo app.
Gaming continues to grow on Windows 10 – in 2015, gamers spent over 4 billion hours playing PC games on Windows 10.
Gamers have streamed more than 6.6 million hours of Xbox One games to Windows 10 PCs.
Admittedly, these are interesting statistics. That’s a lot of Xbox One gaming on Windows 10 PCs! But it’s easy to see why Martin Brinkmann of gHacks might find these data points troublesome.

“The statistics indicate that Microsoft may be collecting more data than initially thought,” writes Brinkmann. “While it is unclear what data is exactly collected, it is clear that the company is collecting information about the use of individual applications and programs on Windows at the very least.”

Data collection to a degree is inevitable. It happens on every connected device on the planet. What’s especially worrisome about Windows 10 is that we don’t know what’s being collected, and there’s no easy way to turn it off (if there’s even any way at all). We can only hope that while Microsoft celebrates its 2015 milestones, it looks to become more transparent in 2016.

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