Microsoft has several ways of collecting data in order to improve the Windows experience. One of them is the Customer Experience Improvement Program. New installations of Windows 7 prompt you to opt in or out during the initial set up, but if you want to check or change your participation, you can find setting in the Control Panel.
This data mining tool sits in the background of your computer collecting usage and “trouble” data, periodically sending it off to Microsoft. While the idea of that sounds a bit “big brother”, there are some benefits to having a sibling watch over you. While you may or may not believe it, Microsoft uses data from these tools to fix bugs and improve the Windows operating system.
If you’ve checked “Yes” in the box above, your computer is identified by a unique GUID and your IP address is captured in the data submission process. The GUID is used to determine wide-spread issues compared repeated events from the same computer and is tracked, however your IP address isn’t ultimately stored with the data reports, so your computer can’t be identified specifically.
The CEIP data that is collected from your computer generally includes:
- Configuration – how many processors you have, your OS version, screen resolution, if you use Bluetooth or high-speed USB devices, etc.
- Performance and Reliability – how quickly a program responds to a button click, how many problems you have with a program or device and how fast your network connections work.
- Program Usage – what features you use most often, how often you launch programs, and how many folders you typically keep on your desktop.