See the amazing amount of information Microsoft is getting from Windows and Office


Both Windows and Office send an astonishing amount of data from your computer to Microsoft.  Here’s how to see what’s being sent.

The Diagnostic Data Viewer shows, as it happens, what your computer is sending to Microsoft.

The tool does NOT give you the choice to not send your private information.  It only tells you what Microsoft has received AFTER it’s been sent.  There are links to some, but not all, privacy settings.

There are a few options in Windows and Office to control what’s sent though, as we’ve already noted, choice is often only between sending some information or a lot … but not none.

Microsoft gets a lot of information

You might expect that ‘diagnostic’ data would only be sent when there’s a problem with your computer.  Maybe a ‘frozen’ program, high CPU or memory use.  But data is being sent constantly.

We left a test computer unattended for just two hours.  In that time the ‘idle’ computer sent over 13,000 events to Microsoft!

Not so Anonymous

The information sent to Microsoft isn’t anonymous.  A quick look through the data reveals both computer and user IDs.

Here’s a snippet which includes a computer ID value, the make and model of the computer.

The same Device: ‘localID’ is used in most of the data sent from the machine.

Each person using a computer can be traced using another identifier ‘User: localID’.

That localID alone doesn’t identify a particular person, but an individual could be targeted when combined with other information available to or bought by Microsoft.

Microsoft Office data

To see what’s being sent from Microsoft Office, enter

1
Microsoft.Office

into the search box at the top.

That narrows the list down to anything involving Office.

To narrow it down even more use the search terms: 

1
Winword, Excel, PowerPoint<em> or</em> Outlook

.

If you’re being really suspicious, there’s the possibility that the Diagnostic Data Viewer isn’t showing all the information sent to Microsoft.  After all, it’s a Microsoft tool so the company could choose not to reveal everything in the app.

How to get the Diagnostic Data Viewer

Go to the Microsoft Store (formerly Windows Store) and search for ‘Diagnostic Data Viewer’