Microsoft plans to launch the Windows Diagnostic Data Viewer app in the next feature update for Windows 10. The company added placeholders for the new feature in previous Windows 10 version 1803 Insider Builds but today's build enables the functionality as a preview.
Microsoft announced its commitment to "be fully transparent on the diagnostic data collected" from Windows devices today and the release of the application adds options to Windows 10 to view collected Telemetry data.
Microsoft says that it wants to increase trust and confidence, and give users increased control over the data.
Our commitment is to be fully transparent on the diagnostic data collected from your Windows devices, how it is used, and to provide you with increased control over that data. This is all part of our commitment to increase your trust and confidence in our products and services.
Windows 10 Diagnostic Data Viewer
You need Windows 10 build 17083 or newer to access the new data viewer. You can access the tool with a tap on Windows-I to open the Settings application, and the selection of Privacy > Diagnostics & feedback in the window that opens.
The main menu offers two new options:
- Launch the Diagnostic Data Viewer
- Delete Diagnostic Data (not active yet)
Diagnostic Data Viewer
Diagnostic Data Viewer is a Windows application to review Telemetry (diagnostic) data that Microsoft collects on the device to send it to company servers for analysis.
Note: Microsoft notes that enabling the feature may require up to 1 Gigabyte of additional hard drive space for storage.
A click on the button launches the application's Microsoft Store page on first run. You need to install the application from there before it becomes available.
The app lists events on the left side in the sidebar, and data of the selected event in JSON format in the central view area. Filtering options appear when you click on the menu icon. You may use it to display only basic diagnostics data or display specific event type data only such as browsing history, software setup and inventory, or product and service usage data.
You find options to export the data to CSV files and to open the Privacy Dashboard on the Internet and the Privacy Settings on the local device as well there.
Search functionality is available which you use to find specific event data. The app returns event data that matches the entered text. Type your name, email addresses, PC name, IP address or any other data that you can think of to run searches across all Telemetry data that Microsoft collected on the device.
While you may use the search for that, you may click on any event listed in the sidebar to access it directly. The data is quite extensive, especially if Telemetry data collecting is set to full and not to basic. I had hundreds of events listed on the Windows 10 Insider build PC after the update to the most recent version. It will take some time to go through the information.
The report may include the following data:
- Software inventory information such as installed applications.
- Basic data such as the version of the operating system, a Device ID or the diagnostic level.
- Performance data such as the device's health, reliability data or file queries.
- Product usage, e.g., usage of applications or services.
- Device properties and capabilities.
- Browsing data, e.g. sites visited in Microsoft Edge.
- Errors and error messages.
The data is quite interesting from an analysis and troubleshooting point of view. If you
run into errors using Windows, you may use the Diagnostic Data Viewer to find out more about the error than Windows might otherwise do. While you may find the same information in the Event Viewer if you know where to look, it may be easier to use this application instead in some cases.
The data is presented in JSON format. While that means that the same data that is sent to Microsoft is shown to you in the Diagnostic Data Viewer, it is not as easy to go through as through an unformatted document.
While you do get a listing of variables and data, for the most part, it is sometimes unclear what that data means. For instance, what does "Gyroscope : 7", "epoch: "1102666", or "iKey:" mean exactly?
Don't get me wrong. I think that the release of the tool is a step in the right direction. It is an initial version and Microsoft might improve its functionality before release or add support articles to its website.
Microsoft could have prevented much of the bad press in regards to privacy if it would have been fully transparent from the launch of Windows 10. It seems that the company misjudged the situation completely and is now trying to make things right after being pushed in the right direction by governments and privacy advocates around the globe.
I'd still like to see an option to turn off Telemetry entirely but that is likely not going to happen.
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