With Windows 10, Microsoft began collecting data from its users on an unprecedented scale. It’s a tactic that has resulted in a visceral response from users, seemingly with little effect. Despite widespread criticism from the EFF, security experts and even government, users still don’t have an option to turn it off entirely.
Unless, of course, you’re Chinese. In a stroke of genius, the country known for its online control will receive the most privacy conscious version. China Government Edition was announced in May and cuts out telemetry altogether.
According to Orangutan Capital, “the Chinese Government-mandated edition is the only version of Windows since XP (or Windows 7 before updates/patches) that respects the privacy rights of its users and is not, as of today, a data-collection machine.”
Not for Consumers
It’s worth noting, however, that the ‘government’ tag isn’t just there for show. This version is intended for state-run enterprises and local government, not your average user. It’s unclear if regular consumers and businesses will be able to purchase it, or how much that would cost.
The point of telemetry, according to Microsoft, is to collect anonymous data so it can better improve the OS. In the case of Chinese government, there’s already a very strict framework for what it needs.
This isn’t a specific case, either, but more of a general push to meet the requirements of governments across the world. As we have reported before, the Italian MoD, Austrian Health Department, U.S. DoD and more all use the OS, some with tweaks. Despite its telemetry, the OS is still far more secure than the alternatives.
However, that doesn’t answer why exactly disabling it isn’t an option. Furthermore, Windows 10 China Government Edition lets officials use custom encryption and better manage updates. It’s a feature set that many Enterprises have been asking for, but it seems unlikely they will come to another market any time soon.