Despite being criticized that it collects customer experience and diagnostic telemetry data in Windows 10, Microsoft decided months back that it would also add the same capabilities into in-market Windows 7 and Windows 8 devices, and has done so via a series of updates that arrived on these platform versions earlier this year.
Following a series of updates meant to prepare Windows 7 and Windows 8 for the impending upgrade to Windows 10, Microsoft pushed the Diagnostics and Telemetry tracking service to existing devices and began collecting more data on them, as Winaero notes in a recent article.
A quick look at the Windows 8.1 Feaature Supplement reveals that Microsoft is already collecting details on how the platform, application, computers, and connected devices, are used, as part of its Windows Customer Experience Improvement Programs (CEIP).
In April of this year, however, Microsoft released update KB3022345 to in-market Windows 7 and Windows 8 devices, in addition to Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2012 systems, thus installing services that “download manifests and upload data to Microsoft when data is available for upload.” These services use SSL (TCP Port 443) and connect to two different DNS endpoints, namely vortex-win.data.microsoft.com and settings-win.data.microsoft.com.
Soon after, the software giant updated its Diagnostics and Telemetry tracking service on these devices with the release of two software updates, KB3068708 and KB3080140, with the latter meant to resolve an underlying issue with the service without making changes to way data is collected.
Another update in the series was KB3075240, which added telemetry points to the User Account Control (UAC) feature in Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 “to collect information on elevations that come from low integrity levels.”
The release of these updates raised concerns regarding the privacy of Microsoft’s users, despite the fact that the company claims that users participating in CEIP can opt out of participating in surveys at any time and that no contact information is being shared with the software giant, at least not intentionally.
As it turns out, the Diagnostics Tracking service can now collect more system data than before, while also having access to third-party applications integrating the Application Insights service, which allows developers to track various performance and crash issues with their programs, which sounds reasonable.
Windows 7 and Windows 8 users are offered the possibility to uninstall these updates from the Control Panel and can also choose to “hide” them, so that the system would not reinstall them.