Microsoft’s Office apps are getting new privacy controls

Jonny Caldwell

Microsoft is adding more privacy controls to its Office programs, giving users additional options on what potentially intrusive features they want enabled. As Microsoft has explained in its blog post, some of the data that the company collects is required for it to properly perform its services, such as data used for email synchronization or diagnostic purposes.

However, some of the data that can be collected is optional, and only gathered with the user’s consent. Microsoft wants to make it easier for customers to draw a line as far as which data it can collect, and will allow users to disable certain privacy-intrusive connected experiences they might not want to use. These features include those that analyze data or download online content, or other connected experiences. Here’s the full list:

  • Experiences that analyze your content. Experiences that use your Office content to provide you with design recommendations, editing suggestions, data insights, and similar features. For example, PowerPoint Designer or Editor in Word.
  • Experiences that download online content. Experiences that allow you to search and download online content, including templates, images, 3D models, videos, and reference materials to enhance your documents. For example, Office templates or PowerPoint QuickStarter.
  • Other connected experiences. Experiences such as document collaboration can be also turned off by disconnecting the Office desktop apps from the Microsoft Cloud.

Of course, Microsoft says says it takes “great precautions” to protect the user’s data, whether required or optionally enabled. These include never collecting the name or email of the user, the contents of his or her files, or any information from other third-party apps.

IT administrators will also be able to set their own privacy settings for other users on an Office 365 account, and will additionally have the option of setting which privacy controls are available to them. Microsoft will bring the new privacy settings to the Office apps for Windows first, and will introduce controls to additional platforms “in the coming months.” You can read more about all of it in detail on the Microsoft blog.