Windows 10: why Microsoft now plans to share your internet history

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Microsoft plans to share details of your internet history with other applications installed on your Windows 10 machine. At least, that seems to be the plan based on a new feature that’s popped-up in the latest beta version of Microsoft Edge – the default web browser that ships with Windows 10.

Discovered by the eagle-eyed team at TechDows, the new option in Microsoft Edge offers to “share browsing data with other Windows features”. This can be toggled on or off. If you decide to give the feature a thumbs up, Microsoft will share details of what you’ve been searching on the internet, the websites you visit most frequently, and what sites you’ve left open in your tabs, to other core parts of the desktop operating system.

Why would you want to do that? Well, Microsoft says: “When turned on, Microsoft Edge will connect local browsing data from this profile with the rest of Windows. Turning this feature on will help you find information from your history, favourites, top sites and recent tabs more easily using features such as Windows search box. If you turn off this feature Microsoft Edge will remove the data shared with Windows on the device and stop sharing any new browsing data from this profile.”

In other words, you’ll be able to search through any open tabs in your web browser using the universal search box found in the taskbar at the bottom of Windows 10. If you’re the sort of person who juggles multiple browser windows and dozens of tabs at the same time – this could be a really handy feature. Should voice controls return in a meaningful way to Windows 10 in the future, the ability to ask voice assistant Cortana to open your “YouTube browser window” could be a nifty time-saver too.

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It’s unclear whether the example offered by Microsoft in its description of the feature is the only way it will use your search history …or whether there are more tricks up its sleeve. For example, will it use knowledge of your internet history to offer up personalised advertisements throughout Windows 10. Microsoft already advertises applications in the Microsoft Store in the Start Menu. However, those adverts could be a lot more effective if Microsoft knew the sort of movies, games and apps that you’re Googling every day anyway.

The feature is currently only available in the latest beta test version of Microsoft Edge, which is only accessible from a separate app, known as Edge Canary. So, there’s still plenty of time for things to change.

However, it’s an interesting idea that could make the switch from Google Chrome to Microsoft Edge a must-do for all Windows 10 users. Or, it could be another way for Microsoft to learn more about you and tailor its adverts to your tastes.

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