Microsoft accused of adding spy features to Windows 7, 8
Windows’ network activity continues to be scrutinized amid privacy concerns. Windows 10 was first put under the microscope with both new and old features causing concern. With its Cortana digital personal assistant, Windows 10 represents a new breed of operating system that incorporates extensive online services as an integral part of the platform. But its older predecessors haven’t escaped attention, and questions are now being asked of Windows 7 and 8’s online connectivity.
Windows 8 included many of the same online features as are now raising hackles around the Internet. While it had no Cortana, it nonetheless integrated Web and local search, supported logging in and syncing settings with Microsoft Account, included online storage of encryption keys, and so on and so forth. While a few privacy advocates expressed concern at these features when the operating system was first released, the response was far more muted than the one we see today about Windows 10. But a new addition has led to accusations that Windows 8 now mimics one of Windows 10’s more problematic features: it reports information to Microsoft even when told not to.
Back in April, Microsoft released a non-security update for both Windows 7 and 8. This update, 3022345, created a new Windows service called the Diagnostics Tracking service. Microsoft describes this service as doing two things. First, it increase the amount of diagnostic data that the Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) can collect in order to better diagnose problems. Second, it collects data for third party applications that use the Application Insights service. Application Insights is a preview that allows app developers to track performance issues, crashes, and other problems of their applications. The Diagnostics Tracking service collects this data and sends it to Microsoft.
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