Windows 11 Privacy Concerns – Should You Be Worried?

Windows 11 Privacy Concerns – Should You Be Worried?


When Microsoft announced Windows 11 in June 2021, it came with several new privacy-related changes that have raised some concerns among users. In this article, I will discuss the key privacy concerns around Windows 11 and whether users should be worried about them or not.

Default Settings Allow More Data Collection

One of the biggest changes in Windows 11 is that some default settings now allow Microsoft to collect more telemetry data from users’ devices.

For example, the diagnostic data level is set to ‘Full’ by default instead of ‘Basic’ in Windows 10. This allows Microsoft to collect additional data about how Windows is configured and how it is performing on a particular device.

Similarly, the Default Diagnostic Data Setting is enabled by default in Windows 11. This allows app crash data and other diagnostic information to be sent automatically. Users have to manually turn this off if they don’t want this data to be shared.

These default settings make it easier for Microsoft to gather more telemetry data for product improvement purposes. However, it also means more user data being collected without explicit consent.

I am concerned that Microsoft is prioritizing telemetry collection over user privacy with these default settings in Windows 11. The company should be more transparent about what data is being collected and allow users to choose their privacy preferences during Windows setup.

Requirement of Microsoft Account

Another controversial change in Windows 11 is the requirement of a Microsoft account during initial device setup. Earlier versions of Windows allowed using a local account instead.

With a Microsoft account requirement, user data like email address, name, location, payment info, browsing history, etc. gets linked to the Windows device. Microsoft says this account is needed for security features like Windows Hello and syncing settings across devices.

However, I feel Microsoft is mainly trying to nudge more users into its ecosystem with this account requirement. It allows the company to build a unified user profile and target personalized ads/services.

I would prefer if Microsoft gave users the choice to use a local account during Windows 11 setup without restrictions. Forcing a Microsoft account feels intrusive and an overreach into user privacy.

Changes to Privacy Settings Interface

Windows 11 also comes with some changes to the privacy settings user interface. For example:

  • Privacy settings have been moved from Settings app to the Accounts section in Windows Settings. This makes them a little harder to discover.

  • Individual privacy settings are now clubbed together into broader categories like Diagnostics & Feedback, Activity History, Search Permissions, etc. This reduces granular control over individual settings.

  • Descriptions about what data is collected under each setting are not as detailed as before. The descriptions feel vague in many places.

Overall, these interface changes make privacy settings slightly less accessible and transparent to users. It requires more clicks and guessing to understand what exact data Microsoft collects via each setting.

I would prefer the privacy options to be clearer with detailed descriptions like before. The privacy settings interface changes seem like a step back in terms of transparency and user control.

Potential Risks

The increased telemetry collection, mandatory Microsoft account, and privacy settings changes pose some potential risks:

  • More user data like usage patterns, device configuration, location, search keywords, browsing history etc. is automatically shared with Microsoft without informed user consent.

  • Microsoft can build a highly detailed profile about individuals by linking data across Windows devices, Microsoft account, Edge browser, Office apps, etc. This expanded profiling capability raises privacy concerns.

  • Lack of granular control over data collection settings takes away user agency. Users have to agree to share all data within broad categories instead of choosing specific settings.

  • Obscuring privacy options reduces accountability towards users. Vague descriptions do not provide clarity on how user data will be used.

Microsoft’s Explanation

Microsoft has tried to justify the changes by stating:

  • telemetry data helps improve Windows security, performance, and features.

  • Microsoft account integration provides a continuous and secure Windows experience across devices.

  • Privacy settings have been simplified to make options easier to understand. Users can still control data collection.

However, I feel the company should be more sensitive to growing user concerns around data privacy. Pushing for more data collection by default without explicit consent does not seem user-friendly.

My Take

As an individual Windows user, I am somewhat worried about the additional data collection in Windows 11. However, Microsoft still provides basic options to limit sharing of telemetry data and personal info.

I plan to take steps like:

  • Creating a local account during Windows 11 setup instead of using Microsoft account

  • Reducing diagnostic data level to Basic or turning it off

  • Disabling Default Diagnostic Data

  • Going through each privacy setting to check what data is collected

  • Using strong passwords and enabling encryption

  • Being careful about apps I install and websites I visit

Responsible data sharing requires both the collector and sharer to be transparent, seek informed consent, and provide appropriate controls. Microsoft can do better on the transparency and controls part. I hope they address privacy concerns through updates and policy changes.

At the same time, users should also take responsibility to understand privacy options and restrict unnecessary data access. With some prudent steps, Windows 11 privacy risks can be minimized without losing out on functionality.


Windows 11 does raise some valid privacy concerns with changes to default data collection settings, Microsoft account requirement, and privacy options interface. Users need to be more careful about their privacy preferences during Windows 11 setup.

However, Microsoft still provides controls to limit data sharing. With the right privacy settings, strong passwords, and safe browsing habits, the privacy risks are manageable. Responsible data handling is a two-way process between the user and Microsoft.

What exact data gets collected by Windows 11 and how Microsoft uses it needs more transparency from the company. I hope they enhance user controls and simplify descriptions in privacy settings through future software updates.

Overall, while Windows 11’s increased data collection defaults are worrying, users can still exercise caution and minimize privacy risks to an acceptable level.



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