Many programs collect user data and send it back to their developers to improve software or provide more targeted services. But according to the PC Security Channel (via TechSpot), Microsoft’s Windows 11 sends data not only to the Redmond, Washington-based software giant, but also to multiple third parties.
To analyze DNS traffic generated by a freshly installed copy of Windows 11 on a brand-new notebook, the PC Security Channel used the Wireshark network protocol analyzer that reveals precisely what is happening on a network. The results were astounding enough for the YouTube channel to call Microsoft’s Windows 11 “spyware.”
As it turned out, an all-new Windows 11 PC that was never used to browse the Internet contacted not only Windows Update, MSN and Bing servers, but also Steam, McAfee, geo.prod.do, and Comscore ScorecardResearch.com. Apparently, the latest operating system from Microsoft collected and sent telemetry data to various market research companies, advertising services, and the like.
To prove the point, the PC Security Channel tried to find out what Windows XP contacted after a fresh install using the same tool and it turned out that the only things that the 20+ years old operating system contacted were Windows Update and Microsoft Update servers.
We’ve reached out to Microsoft for comment, but didn’t hear back prior to publication. We’ll update if we get a response.
Some of the claims may be, technically, overblown. Telemetry data is mentioned in Windows’ terms of service, which many people skip over to use the operating system. And you can choose not to enable at least some of this by turning off settings the first time to boot into the OS.
“By accepting this agreement and using the software you agree that Microsoft may collect, use, and disclose the information as described in the Microsoft Privacy Statement (aka.ms/privacy), and as may be described in the user interface associated with the software features,” the terms of service read (opens in new tab). It also points out that some data-sharing settings can be turned off.
Obviously, a lot has changed in 20 years and we now use more online services than back in the early 2000s. As a result, various telemetry data has to be sent online to keep certain features running. But at the very least, Microsoft should do a better job of expressly asking for consent and stating what will be sent and where, because you can’t opt out of all of the data-sharing “features.” The PC Security Channel warns that even when telemetry tracking is disabled by third-party utilities, Windows 11 still sends certain data.