Windows 10: New app lets you see what data Microsoft is collecting

[This article has been updated several times since its initial publication to incorporate changes in Windows 10. Last updated: January 24, 2018]

Over the past several years, I’ve read countless “privacy guides” for Windows 10. Most are well intentioned, but they invariably take a simplistic approach to privacy: Just turn off every switch in the Privacy section of the Settings app and disable some services.

If you do that, you’re not understanding the privacy landscape, which encompasses far more than just those settings. You’re also missing some important additional steps and potentially rendering a Windows 10 device more vulnerable to attack.

Windows 10: Microsoft rolls out new privacy tools for telemetry data

Windows 10 is a mix of software and services. With every session, a Windows 10 device exchanges a great deal of information with Microsoft’s servers. That’s neither unusual nor alarming. Microsoft’s chief rivals, Google and Apple, are also blending services into their software, with the goal of making your life easier and making that software more reliable.

So are other tech companies that you don’t think of as software companies: Amazon, with the Echo. Tesla, with its self-updating, software-driven cars. Your smart thermostat, your home security system, and perhaps even the lock on your front door.

All those devices collect data to perform their assigned job, with additional data collection to identify problems that need attention by…