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Microsoft Windows's Creepy Move to Spy on Everything You Do With AI

Windows is eager to know more about you, and see what you're doing. Good times! :)

Microsoft has received a power-up of sorts ever since they teamed up with OpenAI to integrate AI-powered tools into their products. The most popular one among those is Copilot.

It has become a big marketing point for Microsoft, which has now given birth to a new line of computers under the Copilot+ PC program.

There are many offerings from Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc. that are set to come equipped with Snapdragon X series processors with an on-board NPU for handling AI tasks.

However, there is a worrying aspect that these PCs will also come equipped with.

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Called “Recall”, this AI-powered feature, when active, will take screenshots of the screen you are working on every few seconds. It then stores the data for later fetching, where it provides you with a scrollable timeline to go back in time and look up what you were doing in the past.

Microsoft describes it as having a photographic memory and asserts that all snapshots taken using Recall are stored on the device itself. They are protected by the data encryption already present on the device.

Moreover, no other users on the same Windows installation can access the other user's Recall snapshots, unless they are using the same user account.

Recall also doesn't take snapshots of InPrivate web browsing sessions on Microsoft Edge. I hope it honors the same for other browsers as well? (currently, no clarification on that).

It also doesn't record any kind of DRM-protected content, such as the ones from online streaming services. But there's another catch.

Recall will capture sensitive information such as passwords, financial account numbers, etc., as there is no content moderation on it 🤯

You see how that's a bad thing? It just adds another data point for malicious actors to take advantage of.

Luckily, the Recall feature can be disabled from the settings menu, but, according to the FAQ on their webpage, Recall will likely be enabled by default when you first boot up your Copilot+ PC.

windows ai faq screenshot
A screenshot of Microsoft's FAQ on the Recall feature (click to expand for mobile users)

Like that was not enough, Recall will eat up more storage than what Windows already takes 😑

That's not ideal, is it? 🤔

Microsoft also intends to bring the feature to devices powered by non-Snapdragon chips via a Windows update sometime in the near future. Considering the feature requires NPUs, we will have to see what systems will be eligible for it.

Personally speaking, I am a bit skeptical about this. Even if all the processing for Recall happens locally, I could never allow a tool like that to monitor whatever I do on my computer.

Microsoft needs to open-source the recall AI feature for users to trust it. But, they can't, can they?

More so, when there's big tech involved, you never know when they change their terms of use or privacy policy. And, when they do, you will be expected to suck it up or stop using their services altogether.

Of course, X (formerly known as Twitter) is up and about over this sketchy situation. Someone even recommended people switch to Linux, and I am all for it. 😀

Anyhow, if you are curious, the Copilot+ PC program also offers a few other features as well.

There is live captioning of audio/video from over 40 languages to English, a Cocreator feature that takes in text/image prompts to generate interpretations of whatever you've specified.

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An Auto Super Resolution feature to improve FPS in games, and Windows Studio Effects for video calls. If you would like to learn more, you can refer to the Microsoft and Qualcomm announcement blogs.

But, you might want to save some time and install Ubuntu 24.04 or any other awesome Linux distribution instead 😉

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💬 Does the Recall feature sound useful to you? Let us know in the comments below!

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