Windows 10 won’t stop talking to Microsoft, even if you tell it to

Privacy-conscious Windows 10 users who disabled the sending of data back to Microsoft still can’t prevent the operating system from communicating with the mothership.

Ars Technica reported that it found five instances where Windows 10 sent data to Microsoft when it “didn’t seem it should”.

This included messages with minimal privacy impact, to messages that contained what appeared to be unique identifiers for your machine, and unexplained traffic that ignores proxy settings.

Cortana and Bing

With Cortana and web searching from the Start menu disabled, Ars Technica said that opening Start and typing will still send a request to bing.com for a file called threshold.appcache.

This file appears to contain information for Cortana, and the request for the file has a random machine ID that seems to remain the same even if you reboot the machine.

When you connect to a new network, Windows will also send requests to www.msftncsi.com/ncsi.txt and ipv6.msftncsi.com/ncsi.txt to determine whether the network has Internet access and whether there is a captive portal in the way.

Windows 10 also loads new live tile data from MSN over an unencrypted HTTP connection. This happens even when all live tiles are disabled.

Of some concern

Of concern is data Windows 10 sends to a Microsoft server at ssw.live.com, which is used for OneDrive and other Microsoft services.

Ars Technica said it could not determine what kind of information was being sent, but it seems to involve telemetry settings.

As with the live tile data, Windows 10 should not share this data, said Ars Technica, as it had disabled telemetry using group policies and was not using OneDrive or similar services.

The website said it also found a scenario where Windows 10 ignored proxy settings and sent requests to a content delivery network directly.

In response to questions from Ars Technica, Microsoft said that in the scenarios described, no query or search usage data is sent to its servers.

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Windows 10 won’t stop talking to Microsoft, even if you tell it to