Microsoft delays Recall launch amid privacy concerns

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Microsoft has decided to delay the full launch of its controversial Recall feature following criticism over data privacy and security, with access given to a smaller group of Windows users first.

The generative AI (genAI) powered Recall feature records “snapshots” of a user’s screen every five seconds to provide a searchable log of actions going back three months. It is one of the flagship features for a range of Copilot+ PCs that promise to bring new genAI features to Windows. The PCs are set to launch next week.

While some have noted the potential benefits of the feature, security and privacy experts called Recall a “privacy nightmare” and likened it to keylogger malware. The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office, a privacy watchdog, said it had written to Microsoft to “understand the safeguards in place to protect user privacy.”

Microsoft has acknowledged the criticisms and recently outlined several privacy enhancements: Recall will now be switched off by default, and users are required to first enroll with Microsoft’s Windows Hello authentication system. 

In an update to a previous blog post on Thursday, Microsoft outlined plans to delay the full launch, which was due to be made available in preview on all Copilot+ devices next week. Instead, it will be made available in preview via the Windows Insider Program in the “coming weeks,” Microsoft said. 

It’s an indication that the company wants more time to test security and privacy features before a wider rollout.

“We are adjusting the release model for Recall to leverage the expertise of the Windows Insider community to ensure the experience meets our high standards for quality and security,” Pavan Davuluri, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for Windows and devices, said in the blog post. 

“This decision is rooted in our commitment to providing a trusted, secure and robust experience for all customers and to seek additional feedback prior to making the feature available to all Copilot+ PC users.”

Detail about how to access the Windows Insider preview will be made public in a blog post, Microsoft said. 

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