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Microsoft Reverses Even More on Windows Recall

Recall, a new Windows 11 feature designed to "retrace users' steps," won't be seeing the light of day anytime soon.

Microsoft on Thursday said it will limit Recall's initial availability only to testers enrolled in the Windows Insider Program. This is a change from Microsoft's original plan to make Recall widely available in new PCs as a public preview feature.

"We are adjusting the release model for Recall to leverage the expertise of the Windows Insider community to ensure the experience meets our high standards for quality and security," the company said in the update.

Windows Recall, which is still in the pre-release stage, has been the subject of controversy since Microsoft first announced it during a PC showcase event last month. Microsoft had conceived of the feature as a key perk of its upcoming line of Copilot+ PCs, which are purpose-built to deliver seamless AI experiences to users. Recall, as Redmond's Chris Paoli explained, "keeps a running timeline of [a user's] every action" while using a Copilot+ PC.

Microsoft originally planned for Recall to be included as a preview feature in the initial crop of Copilot+ PCs, which are set to hit retail shelves on June 18. The feature was met with widespread concern, however. IT security researcher Kevin Beaumont, for instance, noted that Recall could allow attackers to steal a user's entire PC usage history with just a few lines of code, making it a security and privacy liability.

To assuage concerns, Microsoft last week announced it would make Recall strictly an opt-in feature, and described several security handholds it is implementing to prevent Recall from being accidentally activated.

This week, in response to ongoing negative feedback, Microsoft went a step further, putting a moratorium on any public Recall release -- at least, for now.

"Recall will now shift from a preview experience broadly available for Copilot+ PCs on June 18, 2024, to a preview available first in the Windows Insider Program (WIP) in the coming weeks," the company said Thursday. "Following receiving feedback on Recall from our Windows Insider Community, as we typically do, we plan to make Recall (preview) available for all Copilot+ PCs coming soon."

Microsoft plans to collect feedback from Windows Insiders to make Recall more secure before releasing it more broadly. However, because of Recall's hardware requirements, Windows Insiders will still need a Copilot+ PC to test drive the feature.

Microsoft will let Windows Insiders know when the Recall preview is available for them to test.

About the Author

Gladys Rama (@GladysRama3) is the editorial director of Converge360.

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