Windows Chatbot Will Monitor Your Every Move


Elon Musk called it “a Black Mirror episode” — a reference to Netflix’s creepy Twilight Zone show — and said he would “definitely” turn it off. But Microsoft CEO Satya Nandella claims Windows is only trying to help.

Recall is a new feature that’s part of Copilot AI, the chatbot from the company. It will screencap everything you do with your Windows or Surface PC to help you later find things.

Microsoft announced Recall on Monday at its annual Build conference. According to Ars Technica’s report, by screen-capping everything users do on their computer, including apps, communications during live meetings, and research websites, Copilot AI can find anything you have ever read, looked at, or done — even if it’s something you don’t recall.

Microsoft’s Support page explains, “Recall captures screenshots of your desktop as you use it.” “Snapshots [are] taken every five seconds… and [are] analyzed locally on your PC.” Recall’s analysis enables you to search content including images and text using natural language.


Screencaps are stored locally, and encrypted and anyone with the user’s biometric login or password can access them. Ars’s statement that Recall raises privacy concerns is a sublimely British understatement.

Even if I needed it, I don’t think I would want to get that much assistance. Chris Smith, of Trusted Reviews, has a more accurate (and less generous) view. He says Recall is Microsoft’s attempt to fix “how terrible the current Windows PC file search tool is.

Microsoft says that you can choose which apps and sites to exclude. For example, banking apps and websites. There’s one big caveat, though: “You will need to use an approved browser to filter websites as well as to automatically filter private browsing activities.” Microsoft’s Edge browser, for now at least, is the only browser that fully supports privacy protection. Remember that the users are responsible for setting up their privacy exclusions, and this is likely beyond the knowledge or skills of millions of people.


Recall requires at least 50GB of space on your hard drive, which can be a problem for those with smaller SSDs.

Recall is not available on all Windows PCs, and can be disabled.

Trading View reported that “Recall” is an improved version of Windows 10’s Timeline feature, which has been discontinued. “It is now available on the new Copilot Plus PCs powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon X chips.” Microsoft’s Support page does not explain the reason, but I suspect Recall is dependent on the neural processing unit built into this Snapdragon chip. It’s not clear when or if Recall will be available on more common Intel/AMD PCs.

To disable Recall, go to Privacy & Security> Recall & Snapshots, in the Settings app. Disable the Save Snapshots feature, and you can also “Delete Snapshots” if any are present.

It’s hard to deny that there has never been a more exciting time to be a Mac or Linux user.