• Reducing the level of Windows 7 snooping

    I’ve been avoiding this topic studiously. Recent reports have shown that there isn’t a whole lot of “phone home” activity between fully-updated Windows 7 and the Microsoft borg. At the same time, we don’t have any idea exactly what is being transmitted. All of this ties in to Windows 10 snooping, of course, because the sins of the child are being cast upon the father. And grandfather, as it were. Microsoft admits that some of the Win7 and Win8.1 updates are aimed to bringing Windows 10-style “telemetry” to Windows 7.

    I’ll write an article about it for InfoWorld one of these days. Unfortunately, I’m still buried in other stuff. There’s a lot of history with the “Customer Experience Improvement Program” and Dr. Watson before it. I’ve been recommending that you turn off CEIP in all of my books since the XP days, if memory serves. But the picture’s become considerably more complex in the past year.

    With that as prelude – and the understanding that I DON’T recommend you put on a tinfoil hat at the moment – I wanted to post a message sent to me by JY.  I’d like to open the topic up for discussion.

    Thanks for facilitating and keeping people on top of all this. I did some additional checking and found other issues (scheduled tasks) related to the Win CEIP (not Office). While I had indeed opted out of CEIP, that didn’t turn everything off. Below is what I found at VMware. Even though the setting is VM, this still pertains to non-VM.

    “Disable the Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program

    Disabling the Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program and the related Task Scheduler tasks that control this program can improve Windows 7 and Windows 8 system performance in large View desktop pools.

    1 In the Windows 7 or Windows 8 guest operating system, start the control panel and click Action Center > Change Action Center settings.
    2 Click Customer Experience Improvement Program settings.
    3 Select No, I don’t want to participate in the program and click Save changes.
    4 Start the control panel and click Administrative Tools > Task Scheduler.
    5 In the Task Scheduler (Local) pane of the Task Scheduler dialog box, expand the Task Scheduler Library > Microsoft > Windows nodes and open the Application Experience folder.
    6 Disable the AITAgent and ProgramDataUpdater tasks.
    7 In the Task Scheduler Library > Microsoft > Windows node, open the Customer Experience Improvement Program folder.
    8 Disable the Consolidator, KernelCEIPTask, and Use CEIP tasks.” [last one should be “UsbCEIP”]


    Opting out of CEIP did nothing to disable the 5 tasks above. On this particular computer, all 5 are currently enabled (for about the next 2 minutes) and have been running on their default schedules. All of them are clearly labeled as being part of the CEIP. Interestingly, the last two contain in the description, “If the user has not consented to participate in Windows CEIP, this task does nothing.” Yet, they are still active and show the last run results as having been completed successfully. What? Screenshot below.

    Task Scheduler

    I opted not to post this for fear of creating more fear. Obviously, we need a great deal of telemetry to keep our machines in top form. However, I decided that these tasks aren’t necessary, whether data transmission is going on or not. They have nothing to do with updates or security, at least not directly. If you think this info is valuable to others, feel free to share it.