Microsoft describes how it uses telemetry data for smoother updates


— 1:23 PM on April 26, 2017

A vocal minority has up in arms about Windows 10's data collection ever since its release. The company's been making an effort towards being clearer about its data collection practices. Microsoft rolled out its second major update to Windows 10 a couple of weeks ago. Today, it's offering some insight into how it uses telemetry data to help find bugs and smooth out software update rollouts.


The most visible component of the Windows 10 Creators Update

In particular, the giant from Redmond says that the telemetry data and user input received through the Feedback Hub app has been used to adjust software updates in three different ways. In some cases, Microsoft documents the problem and offers potential workarounds if there's an issue with the update. In other cases, the company might update Windows itself or work with hardware and software vendors so they can produce patched drivers or applications. The third path is to use the data to block the installation of an update on a system with a troublesome piece of hardware or software.

To cite an example, Microsoft's blog post goes on to describe a particularly buggy Broadcom Bluetooth chip that caused multiple bug reports. Microsoft documented the issue and blocked the Creators Update from automatically installing on systems with the offending hardware until it's able to work with Broadcom to find a solution.

The company urges users without the technical expertise to troubleshoot issues to wait until the Creators Update pops up in Windows update, instead of manually installing it. Updating Windows by hand bypasses Microsoft's update curation efforts, thereby leaving the user tasked with any troubleshooting if something goes wrong.

On one hand, it's great that the company is doing something to prevent updates from causing problems on tricky systems. On the other hand, if a company is unwilling or unable to work with Microsoft to correct issues, users might find themselves out in the cold for future updates. Only time will tell how Microsoft uses this data in the future.

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