Search

Microsoft Recall: A Shrewd Move or Big Brother in Your PC?

Microsoft Recall: A Shrewd Move or Big Brother in Your PC?

The News: Microsoft introduces Recall, a new feature announced as part of Copilot+ PC that aims to help users search through their PC activity, creating a wave of privacy concerns. Microsoft Support includes a guide to ensuring privacy and control over the recall experience. Find out more here.

Microsoft Recall: A Shrewd Move or Big Brother in Your PC?

Analyst Take: Microsoft’s introduction of its Recall feature, which functions by taking screenshots of the user’s screen at regular intervals to create a local, searchable record of user activity on the device, sparks a newfound debate regarding data privacy in the context of artificial intelligence (AI) apps.

Like most Copilot-like AI assistant tools, Recall can potentially enhance productivity for users by allowing them to find anything quickly, facilitating the ability to search for a specific document simply by recalling a keyword or a phrase and eliminating the time and frustration of digging through folders and file names. For more visually oriented workers, the screenshot-based approach provides further assistance by helping them to quickly locate specific tasks or projects by recalling the visuals on screen.

At the same time, however, it introduces a number of privacy and security considerations. While the data is stored locally and encrypted at rest, industry researchers are concerned about the potential for hackers to access the data on a compromised Copilot+ PC, or as a result of misuse or accidental exposure resulting from user error. Recall can be disabled but is by default enabled, likely resulting in Recall operating on a vast majority of Copilot+ PCs.

In sum, Recall, like many AI applications, is potentially a double-edged sword – a promising feature, but requires gaining of trust among users and a cautious approach when it comes to adoption. Microsoft Recall boasts undeniable potential for boosting productivity and accessibility – especially when we consider the potential for integration with Office 365. However, the privacy concerns cannot be ignored, and will require robust security measures and a commitment to user control.

Given that the Recall security and privacy controversy will not cool down anytime soon, it is possible that security concerns will tarnish or possibly slow the rollout of new Copilot+ PCs. An ongoing emphasis on clear communication and documentation of best practices for data privacy from Microsoft will be required to avoid this. To avoid this, Microsoft will need to put an ongoing emphasis on clear communication and documentation of best practices for data privacy.

It is important that businesses are aware and monitor this issue, as Recall presents data exposure and data loss risks when personal or unmanaged Copilot+ PCs are used in BYOD (bring your own device) and remote/work-at-home scenarios.

Disclosure: The Futurum Group is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.

Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of The Futurum Group as a whole.

Other Insights from The Futurum Group:

Security Above All Else – Six Five on the Road

Microsoft and the Future of Security – The Six Five On The Road

Microsoft Copilot for Security – Protecting at the Scale and Speed of AI – The Six Five On the Road

Image Credit: Microsoft

Author Information

With a focus on data security, protection, and management, Krista has a particular focus on how these strategies play out in multi-cloud environments. She brings approximately a decade of experience providing research and advisory services and creating thought leadership content, with a focus on IT infrastructure and data management and protection. Her vantage point spans technology and vendor portfolio developments; customer buying behavior trends; and vendor ecosystems, go-to-market positioning, and business models. Her work has appeared in major publications including eWeek, TechTarget and The Register.

Prior to joining The Futurum Group, Krista led the data center practice for Evaluator Group and the data center practice of analyst firm Technology Business Research. She also created articles, product analyses, and blogs on all things storage and data protection and management for analyst firm Storage Switzerland and led market intelligence initiatives for media company TechTarget.

Krista holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Journalism with a minor in Business Administration from the University of New Hampshire.

Mitch Ashley is a technology executive and entrepreneur who is an advisor, analyst, product creator and IT leader, bringing 30+ years in cybersecurity, cloud, AI, product development and software engineering. As a CTO, CIO, go-to-market advisor and practitioner, Mitch currently leads Techstrong Research's analyst business and Techstrong Group's tech media platforms across video, written content, podcasts, and virtual and in-person events (500k subscribers) for DevOps, cybersecurity, AI, cloud native, platforms and digital leadership. Previously, Mitch led the creation of cybersecurity products utilized in private and public sectors, including the U.S. Department of Defense and all branches of the military. Mitch has also led businesses and technology in managed PKI services to broadband, Wi-Fi, IoT, energy management and 5G industries, product certification test labs, SaaS broadband service locator (93m transactions annually), first market deployments of video-on-demand and Internet cable services, national broadband network deployment and multiple banking and telecom applications.

Mitch frequently hosts award-winning video series, including DevOps Unbound, CISO Talk and Techstrong Gang available on Techstrong.tv. He is also a frequent speaker, roundtable and panel moderator and podcast host (techstrongpodcasts.com). He publishes his research content on TechstrongResearch.com and FuturumGroup.com.

SHARE:

Latest Insights:

The Six Five team discusses Sequoia/A16Z/Goldman rain on the AI parade.
The Six Five team discusses Oracle & Palantir Foundry & AI Platform.
The Six Five team discusses AWS Summit New York 2024.