Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning , Governance & Risk Management , Next-Generation Technologies & Secure Development

Microsoft Backtracks on Recall Rollout

Tech Giant to Test AI Feature Via Windows Insider Program
Microsoft Backtracks on Recall Rollout
Microsoft again backtracked on the rollout of Recall. (Image: Shutterstock)

Microsoft dialed back even further its plans to roll out Recall, an automatic screenshot feature indexed by artificial intelligence that has garnered opposition from users and security and privacy advocates.

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The computing giant said Thursday that it won't make Recall with Copilot+ PCs available for sale next Tuesday. Instead, it will offer Recall "in the coming weeks" as a preview available in the Windows Insider Program.

The move is Microsoft's second retreat from Recall within a week. The company announced June 7 that that it would shift the default setting for Recall to "off" and require express user consent before turning on Recall. It also announced a clutch of security improvements, such as additional encryption and user authentication - leading some security experts to question whether Microsoft could implement those new elements in time for a June 18 launch (see: Microsoft Tweaks Recall for Security).

Microsoft said Thursday the delay is because it wants to ensure that Recall's experience meets its "high standards for quality and security."

Redmond CEO Satya Nadella has touted Recall as a "semantic search over all your history," describing it as a way to "recreate moments from the past, essentially."

The AI feature screenshots nearly everything a user sees or does on their PC, and allows them to review the snapshots on a scrollable timeline and retrieve specific items later. The company said all the nearly 25 gigabytes of data would be retained on the device and would not be used to train AI models.

The feature's rollout quickly ran into skepticism from security researchers, including one who coded TotalRecall, a demo tool built to extract the Recall database. Researchers including Kevin Beaumont, who formerly worked at Microsoft, raised questions about Recall's ability to capture sensitive information, including financial and corporate data, and to delete personally delicate history, such as pornography viewing.

"Photographic memory of everything you've ever done on a computer has to be entirely optional, with risks explained and be done right ... or not at all. Accountability matters," he said Wednesday. "When it does appear in preview channels, privacy and security researchers need to keep a close eye on what Microsoft are doing with the feature."

About the Author

Rashmi Ramesh

Rashmi Ramesh

Assistant Editor, Global News Desk, ISMG

Ramesh has seven years of experience writing and editing stories on finance, enterprise and consumer technology, and diversity and inclusion. She has previously worked at formerly News Corp-owned TechCircle, business daily The Economic Times and The New Indian Express.

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