Sure that Windows 7 & 8 weren’t spying on you? Guess what? They got the Windows 10 updates, too!
You were excited for the new Windows 10, weren’t you? And when you first downloaded it this summer, you were probably very satisfied – after all, Windows 10 easily outperforms previous versions of Windows. It received super high ratings when it came to productivity, and it’s extremely user friendly. But it probably didn’t take long for you notice this extremely troubling feature: Windows 10 is spying on you!
Windows 10 spy alert!
Windows 10 is reporting a worrying amount of user activity to Microsoft – your location, your contacts, what you type and other details. While these features can be disabled, the default option in the system’s “Express Installation” is to leave them running, which means, unless you were somehow clued in to this problem, Windows will automatically gather this data from you. Those who specifically want to turn off the data collection settings have to go through thirteen (yes, thirteen!) different “Settings” screens and visit an external website – making Microsoft’s push for the collection of user data a very aggressive one.
As a result, many users who aren’t interested in having this data collected from them have decided to skip the free upgrade, opt out of Windows 10, and reclaim their copies of Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1. The previous versions of Windows, after all, didn’t spy on their own users… Until now.
Previous versions of Windows are spying on you, too!
Clearly, Microsoft really wants its user data, so the company has decided to roll these spy features into previous versions of its operating system. Updated versions of Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 have inherited the new spying features. Even when you thought you were back in safe territory, you weren’t.
So what can you do?
How to remove Windows spy settings
If you use an older version of Windows (7, 8, or 8.1), the good news is that you can easily prevent the recent updates from being installed, or remove them if you’ve already re-installed the older operating system.
Note: The following advice may look intimidating, but we promise that all you need to do is follow these simple instructions and you’ll be spy-free in no time!
To remove the spy settings:
- Click on your “Windows” key or click on the “Start” button.
- Click on the search pane and search for “Remove a Program.”
- Select “Add or Remove Programs.” The Control Panel will open with a list of all the installed applications on your computer.
- On the left you should see “View Installed Updates.” Click on it.
- A list will come up with all the update packages, including name and identification number. Either use the search pane to locate the identification numbers (this is usually found in the top right corner, where it says “Search Installed Updates”), or manually go over the list. ID numbers that you’ll want to search for include:
- Right-click on each of the update packages mentioned above and select “Uninstall.”
Please note that your computer may need to be restarted for changes to take effect.
How to Block Spying Updates
If you can’t find the packages on the list and you’re positive you haven’t missed them, then that may be a sign they simply haven’t been installed yet. That’s good! Now, all you’ll need to do is block these updates from getting installed at a later date by following these four steps:
- Click on your “Windows” key or click on the Start button.
- Click on the search pane and search for “Windows Update.”
- Select the result that comes up.
- A similar list as the one described in step 5 in the above process will appear. Unlike the previous steps, which showed which updates had been installed on your machine, this list consists of packages that have yet to be installed. Locate the packages listed above based on their identification numbers. Then, right-click on each one and select “Hide Update.”
Do you want to learn how to opt out of Windows 10 or disable the Window’s 10 spying features? Check out this helpful article!