Worrying new data sharing options in Microsoft Office

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Office 2016 for Windows or Mac has an inconsistent set of privacy and diagnostic data options depending on exactly which Office variant you have, your ‘Insider’ choice and even the toss of a coin!

Microsoft’s intention is clear … they want more information about how you use Word, Excel and Powerpoint to the extent that they won’t give you any choice.

One privacy option might be removed entirely, cunningly replaced with a similar looking but quite different option.

Office 2016 for Windows

Go to File | Options | Trust Center | Privacy Options to see what choices, if any, are available.

Regular (non Insider) Office users see this at the moment:

“Send personal information to Microsoft to make improvements to Office”

That’s a simple, straight-forward choice.  As it should be.

Office Insiders and the toss of a coin

It seems Microsoft want to expand their data collection from Office users without the option to say ‘No’.  The latest Office ‘Insiders’ releases for Windows and Mac have different messages. Probably Microsoft is doing a bit of ‘A/B’ testing to see how many people choose ‘Full’ over ‘Basic’.

Here’s what some Office for Windows Insiders are seeing.

“Get designs, information, recommendations, and services by allowing Office to access and make product improvements based on Office content on my device”

This new choice has nothing to do with sending diagnostic data at all.  It’s expanding what’s sent to include your content. If you turn this option OFF, you lose the ‘Intelligent Services’ like Smart Lookup and Design Ideas.

Other Insiders are seeing something quite different, they get the above option plus choices to send other Basic or Full diagnostic data.

Source: The Register

Office for Mac

Our current ‘Insiders’ Office 2016 for Mac has the ‘Basic’ or ‘Full’ options, but there’s also a ‘Send personal information to Microsoft to make improvements to Office’.

Compare that to the current, regular release of Office 2016 for Mac which has the simple Yes/No option.

“Send personal information to Microsoft to make improvements to Office”

It will be important to see what comes of these tests.


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