Microsoft and Its Alleged Dark Patterns Aiding User Data Collection

December 15, 2018

We have a couple of Windows 10 machines. One is in the factory default mode, which means, “Take me, your lovable beast you.” The other computer is locked down reasonably well.

If you have not looked into the wild and crazy services and functions of Windows 10, you may want to read “Microsoft Accused of Collecting Data Even When You Opt Out in Windows 10.” We are not sure if the information is accurate. The source appears to be a potato, but we try to keep an open mind.

The argument is that certain privacy controls do not turn off the phone home mechanism for Timeline, for example.

We noted this statement:

On the one hand, one shouldn’t confuse incompetence with malice, and UI design has never been Microsoft’s forte. Given the fact that Windows 10’s basic control systems are still stretched between the XP-era Control Panel and the Fluent Settings panel, with some controls overlapping in both areas and some unique to one menu or the other, it’s not exactly surprising that the company would struggle to refine and centralize its UI. On the other hand, Microsoft is no stranger to the use of so-called dark patterns — patterns of behavior that mislead the user by implying that they are taking one kind of action when they actually aren’t. The wording under AH1 implies that disabling this stops such information from flowing to Microsoft. It doesn’t.

Microsoft cares about its customer experience. I am not sure I buy this particular line of fuzzy speak sophistry, but to each his or her own.

Stephen E Arnold, December 15, 2018


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