Privacy at Microsoft

Your data, powering your experiences, controlled by you.

At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more. We are doing this by building an intelligent cloud, reinventing productivity and business processes, and making computing more personal. In all of this, we will maintain the timeless value of privacy and preserve the ability for you to control your data.

This starts with making sure that you get meaningful choices about how and why data is collected and used, and ensuring that you have the information you need to make the choices that are right for you across our products and services.

We are working to earn your trust every day by focusing on six key privacy principles:

  • Control: We will put you in control of your privacy with easy-to-use tools and clear choices.
  • Transparency: We will be transparent about data collection and use so that you can make informed decisions.
  • Security: We will protect the data that you entrust to us via strong security and encryption.
  • Strong legal protections: We will respect your local privacy laws and fight for legal protection of your privacy as a fundamental human right.
  • No content-based targeting: We will not use your email, chat, files or other personal content to target ads to you.
  • Benefits to you: When we do collect data, we will use it to benefit you and to make your experiences better.

These principles form the foundation of Microsoft’s approach to privacy and will continue to shape the way we build our products and services. Enterprise and business customers can visit the Microsoft Trust Center to find out how we protect your data in the Microsoft Cloud.

On the rest of this website, you’ll find links to more information and controls so that you can make the right decisions for you. And we’re constantly working to improve, so if you notice something in our products and services that doesn’t work the way you’d expect when it comes to privacy, please let us know.


What kinds of data does Microsoft collect?

Microsoft collects data to help you do more. To do this, we use the data we collect to operate and improve our software, services and devices, provide you with personalised experiences, and help keep you safe. These are some of the most common categories of data we collect.

Web browsing and online searches

Woman browsing the web and doing searches

Like many search engines, we use your search history and the history aggregated from other people to give you better search results. To speed up web browsing, Microsoft web browsers can collect and use browsing history to predict where you want to go. Cortana can make personalised recommendations based on your browsing and search history.

You can choose whether your browsing history is collected for page prediction in your Microsoft browser settings. You can also manage whether Cortana has access to your search and browsing history in Cortana and Microsoft Edge settings.

Places you go

Car driving  by an ice cream shop

Location information helps us give you directions to the places you want to go and show you information relevant to where you are. For this, we use the locations that you provide or that we’ve detected using technologies such as GPS or IP addresses.

Detecting locations also helps us protect you. For example, if you almost always sign in from Tokyo, and suddenly you’re signing in from London, we can check to make sure that it’s really you.

You can turn location services on or off for your device in Settings > Privacy > Location. From here, you can also choose which Windows Store apps have access to your location and manage the location history stored on your device.

To view and clear location data that’s been associated with your Microsoft account, go to account.microsoft.com.

Data that helps us assist you, personally

Man looking at phone on a pavement

To help you avoid traffic, remember anniversaries, text the right “Jennifer” in your contact list, and in general do more, Cortana needs to know what you’re interested in, what’s on your calendar, and who you might want to do things with. When you don’t want to reach for a keyboard, we can use your speech and handwriting patterns to help translate what you say or write into documents and text messages.

Manage your Cortana interests and other data

Fitness and health

Man riding a bicycle on a street

Microsoft Health, HealthVault and devices such as Microsoft Band can help you understand and manage your health data.

Your data can include real-time data such as your heart rate and daily steps taken. It can also include your health records if you choose to use HealthVault to store that data. HealthVault also enables you to share health records with your caregivers.

Data that we use to show more interesting ads

Woman walking down street

Some of Microsoft’s services are supported by advertising. To show ads that you’re more likely to be interested in, we use data such as your location, Bing web searches, Microsoft or advertiser web pages that you view, demographics and things that you’ve added to your favourites. We don’t use what you say in email, chat, video calls or voicemail, or your documents, photos or other personal files to target ads to you.

To stop Microsoft from showing you ads based on your interests, use our advertising controls online. You’ll still see ads, but they may not be as interesting to you.

Sign-in and payment data

Man paying for coffee

Signing up for your own Microsoft account lets you use online services such as storage and family settings, and helps keep your settings in sync across devices. When you add payment data to your account, getting apps, subscriptions, films, TV and games is easy on your Windows 10 devices.

By keeping your password secret and adding extra security info such as a phone number or email address, you can help keep your files, credit cards, browsing history and location info more safe and sound.

To update passwords, security info and payment options, visit the Microsoft account website.

Information from device sensors

Man sitting on a sofa with connected devices

As you’d expect from any modern device, most Windows 10 phones, tablets and PCs come with sensors – ways for the device to detect the world. These can be your phone’s microphone or accelerometer, your laptop’s fingerprint scanner, an internal GPS sensor or more.

On Windows 10 devices, you control what sensor data the device and the apps can use in Settings > Privacy.


Windows 10 and your online services

Windows10 Logo
Woman at a desk using a laptop

With Windows 10 as a cloud-powered service, data helps us to continually protect and improve your experience. For example, to help keep you safe online, we automatically scan Windows 10 devices for known malware. We also use telemetry, which is ongoing information that we receive about how your Windows 10 system is operating, to keep your device running well. So if we know that there’s a problem with a particular kind of printer driver, we can send the right drivers to just the people who use that kind of printer.

We also provide you with a number of controls for how information is used to deliver personalised services and experiences in Windows 10. You can adjust your Windows 10 privacy settings for everything from basic telemetry to personalised services at any time by going to Settings > Privacy > Feedback & diagnostics.

Learn how each of our products uses data to personalise your experience.

OfficeOffice logo

View privacy settings in any Office app by going to File > Options > Trust Centre.

Settings in Trust Center

SkypeSkype logo

Edit who can see your profile in Skype and other privacy settings at Skype.com.

Skype settings

OneDriveOnedrive logo

You control who can view your files on OneDrive.

Best practices for keeping your files secure

XboxXbox logo

Adjust your Xbox privacy settings on your console or Xbox.com.

Xbox privacy settings

BingBing logo

Turn off Search Suggestions and adjust other settings by signing in to Bing.com.

Bing privacy settings

CortanaCortana logo

Cortana works best when she can learn about you from your device and other Microsoft services.

Cortana’s settings