MICROSOFT HAS scared the pants off Windows Insiders after a bug in its latest build suggested that the company was about to start insisting on phone numbers from users.
The latest build numbered 17063 appears to omit the "skip" button on the screen where you are asked to enter a phone number to link your account. It's a feature that is handy for some of Windows' cross-device services such as Cortana, but should, theoretically be optional.
Of course, given Microsoft's previous record on pushing the privacy thing a tiny bit further than you'd like (see Updategate automatic upload of analytics for details) then it's not surprising that everyone flaps when something like this happens. It certainly seems like a very Microsoft-under-Nadella thing to do.
The truth, however, is far more benign. Jen Gentleman, one of the internal Windows Insiders and community leaders explained
This is just a bug, guys - the buttons to proceed are invisible but there. It's been listed in the known issues for build 17063 since 12/21 -> https://t.co/BaVbSjiHZK #WindowsInsiders https://t.co/p3bM9YjaTi— Jen Gentleman 🌺 (@JenMsft) December 30, 2017
In other words, the button was there. It was invisible, but it was there. And of course, it will be fixed.
So why mention it? Simple. It's actually a fairly damning inditement on the state of Microsoft. Not the bug - bugs happen, it's what the Insider Programme is all about - stamping them before they reach the main build.
But the fact that so many people assumed that this was once again a case of Microsoft dogfooding a horrible invasive idea to see if they would get away with it, is more of a problem. We haven't plucked it out of thin air. It's an example of how we see Microsoft these days. They've pulled so much crap, that we assume the worst. And that's something that Nadella really ought to do something about, before Microsoft becomes the software equivalent of Ryanair. µ
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