It’s not just Windows 10, Windows 7 and 8 are also tracking you – here’s how to stop them

Windows 10 Features

Windows 10’s warm reception has been sullied by concerns over data collection, usage tracking and spying, which is enabled in the new operating system by default. In fact, many people have avoided updating to Windows 10 solely due to concerns surrounding these issues.

We told you how you can opt out of much of these data-collecting features, and we also pointed you to six free tools that will help stop other Windows 10 functions that may compromise your data.

But as it turns out, Windows 10 isn’t the only Microsoft operating system collecting your data without your knowledge.

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Since the initial wave of Windows 10 privacy concerns washed over the web, people have been looking at Microsoft’s terms and privacy policies much more closely than they had been in the past. As it turns out, it didn’t take long for new issues to arise.

As noted in an article on gHacks, new updates pushed out recently to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 include features that introduce some severe data collection and tracking features that some users will be uncomfortable with.

There are four updates in question, and descriptions of each one taken from Microsoft’s website follow below.

KB3068708 This update introduces the Diagnostics and Telemetry tracking service to existing devices. By applying this service, you can add benefits from the latest version of Windows to systems that have not yet upgraded. The update also supports applications that are subscribed to Visual Studio Application Insights.

KB3022345 (replaced by KB3068708) This update introduces the Diagnostics and Telemetry tracking service to in-market devices. By applying this service, you can add benefits from the latest version of Windows to systems that have not yet been upgraded. The update also supports applications that are subscribed to Visual Studio Application Insights.

KB3075249 This update adds telemetry points to the User Account Control (UAC) feature to collect information on elevations that come from low integrity levels.

KB3080149 This package updates the Diagnostics and Telemetry tracking service to existing devices. This service provides benefits from the latest version of Windows to systems that have not yet upgraded. The update also supports applications that are subscribed to Visual Studio Application Insights.

According to the report, Microsoft bypasses any edited instructions in the Hosts file and exchanges data with vortex-win.data.microsoft.com and settings-win.data.microsoft.com, possibly among others.

So, what can you do to stop it?

First, you can avoid installing these four updates altogether. If they have already been installed, they can be uninstalled from within the Control Panel (here’s a guide), or advanced users can type the following four commands using an elevated command prompt:

  • wusa /uninstall /kb:3068708 /quiet /norestart
  • wusa /uninstall /kb:3022345 /quiet /norestart
  • wusa /uninstall /kb:3075249 /quiet /norestart
  • wusa /uninstall /kb:3080149 /quiet /norestart

Once the updates are uninstalled, use the Windows Update mechanism to “hide” them (here’s a guide) so that your operating system doesn’t try to reinstall them.

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