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It's a week where Microsoft giveth and Microsoft taketh away. On the plus side, it has caved on the mandatory app updates for home users and will allow them to opt out. On the down side, it has back-rolled some of the privacy-intrusive parts of Windows 10 to its older operating systems.
KB 3068708: This update introduces the Diagnostics and Telemetry tracking service to existing devices. By applying this service, you can add benefits from the latest version of Windows to systems that have not yet upgraded. The update also supports applications that are subscribed to Visual Studio Application Insights.
KB 3068708 is listed as collecting diagnostics about functional issues on systems that take part in the Customer Experience Improvement Program. Determining whether or not you are a member of the CEIP, however, is less than obvious. The KB also notes that “Most programs make CEIP options available on the Help menu, although for some products, you might have to check settings, options, or preferences menus.” This is a recommended Windows update.
KB 3022345: This update has been superseded by KB 3068708, but previously provided the same telemetry-tracking services. It’s not clear how the two updates differ, but if you want to remove all traces of telemetry tracking, you’ll want to remove this update as well.
KB 3075249: This update adds telemetry points to the User Account Control (UAC) feature to collect information on elevations that come from low integrity levels. What this appears to mean is that MS wants more information about the kinds of applications that trigger UAC in the first place, presumably because it wants to know what they do and why they need that access. This update is classified as Optional.
KB 3080149: This update is described in identical language to the first two. “This package updates the Diagnostics and Telemetry tracking service to existing devices. This service provides benefits from the latest version of Windows to systems that have not yet upgraded. The update also supports applications that are subscribed to Visual Studio Application Insights.” It is provided as an Optional update, even though the first was classified a “Recommended” update.
The updates listed above connect to vortex-win.data.microsoft.com and settings-win.data.microsoft.com. These addresses are hard-coded to bypass the hosts file and cannot be prevented from connecting. It’s been reported that software firewalls aren’t sufficient to block them, though this is unclear.