As you've probably seen, we've told you that Windows 10 collects users data even before the operating system was officially launched. Furthermore, we even showed you the settings that compromise your privacy and wrote about the dangers of using anti-spying tools. However, the one thing we've never actually discussed is why Microsoft is spying on its users and what the company does with the data it collects. Let's fix that.
Microsoft has officially stated that it collects telemetry data for two major reasons: security and improvements. In order for the IT giant to effectively improve its applications or the operating system as a whole, it needs to understand exactly how the users interact with the company's services. Moreover, this knowledge also helps developers better understand which features or fixes should be prioritized in the following updates and what aspects can be improved at a later time.
As far as security is concerned, receiving infection reports helps Microsoft know what went wrong and come up with better solutions in the future. Windows Defender gets improved using data collected from the customers and the services that benefit the most are App Guard and Advanced Threat Detection. Additionally, the information gathered from Active Directory allows the IT giant to identify patterns in ransomware or other type of attacks so that it can prevent them in the future.
Those who use the Enterprise edition have almost complete control over what gets shared with the help of the group policy objects. Additionally, these clients also have a fourth level in their Privacy Settings named Security, which only allows the IT giant to see the Windows version installed, the type of device that's being used and MSRT reports (containing information about infections and the IP address). The biggest disadvantage of using the Security level is the fact that Windows 10 updates won't get automatically installed anymore, but network admins generally like to comb through those beforehand anyway.
In case you're using the Home or Pro edition of Windows 10, you won't have access to group policy objects and you will only have three privacy levels, with Basic being the one that sends the least data. Besides the data that I previously mentioned when I talked about the Security level, the Basic level also lets Microsoft see application usage and application compatibility data, thus allowing to company to find errors that may occur on a specific hardware or software configuration. If you're interested in striking a balance between the data collected by Microsoft and maintaining your privacy, then this is your best native option.
Before we end, you should also know that according to Microsoft, the company doesn't collect the user's personal data and that the information that's being collected is anonymized. Additionally, the IT giant also says that it doesn't share our data with other companies, but as a personal opinion, I'm not completely convinced that's true.