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Windows 10 upgrade: Don't use Express settings if you value your privacy

Jared Newman | Aug. 1, 2016
Take the time to customize typing, browsing, and other settings from the get-go.

When you’re setting up a new or existing PC with Windows 10, Microsoft will offer to install the operating system with “Express settings.”

Although Windows 10 Express settings will get you up and running quickly, that convenience comes at a cost: By skipping over custom settings, you’re agreeing to all kinds of data collection and behavior tracking, much of which didn’t apply in earlier versions of Windows.

Here’s our advice: Instead of blindly enabling Express settings in Windows 10, take some time to understand what you’re agreeing to. Click the Customize settings link (in tiny text at the bottom of the setup screen), and disable the options you don’t want.

Below, we’ll walk through all of the custom settings in Windows 10 setup, the benefits and drawbacks of enabling them, and how you can turn them off later.

Customize Settings: Personalization and Location

windows 10 install customize settings personalization location

This Windows 10 setup page governs the data Microsoft collects for targeted ads and for certain online services, such as Cortana and Skype. Here are the settings you can control:

Personalize your speech, typing, and inking input by sending contacts and calendar details, along with other associated input data to Microsoft.

Microsoft uses this data for spell-check, auto-complete, and handwriting recognition. For instance, if you have a friend with an unusual name, Windows 10 can avoid correcting the spelling when you type on a touch screen or write with a stylus.

This Windows 10 setting is somewhat contentious, with some critics calling it a keylogger. However, Microsoft told Lifehacker that it does not collect any personal information from writing or typing. The company chops up text into small bits that can’t be put back together, and performs multiple checks to strip away sensitive data such as email addresses and passwords.

You can disable the data collection, of course, but doing so will prevent Cortana from working.

To change this setting after the Windows 10 setup process, head to Settings > Privacy > Speech, Inking, & Typing, and click the button under Getting to know you.

win10speechtype

Send typing and inking data to Microsoft to improve the recognition and suggestion platform.

This setting doesn’t provide any immediate benefits, but the aggregate data from lots of users could help Microsoft improve spell-check and auto-complete in the future. The same privacy contentions from the previous setting apply here, but you’re free to disable this setting without losing access to any features.

To change this setting after the Windows 10 setup process, head to Settings > Privacy > General, and uncheck “Send Microsoft info about how I write…”

 

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