“Windows Recall” feature postponed days ahead of launch

Windows Recall is (was) a new AI powered feature, exclusive for Copilot+PCs that can capture snapshots of your screen every few seconds allowing the user to essentially rewind back to a point in time to back track on work, application state and documents being worked on,

Recall overview (Microsoft)

Announced as the headline feature for the new generation of Copilot+PCs, this new flagship Windows Recall will now arrive at a later date, with a wider public  preview coming soon for Windows Insiders.

There has been many questions, concerns and clarity demanded from the public and tech pros about this new feature since it was announced in May, with concerns over whether Microsoft had “gone too far” in finding a use for AI and the new NPU powered Copilot+PCs. The fact this has not been through the usual process of testing my Microsoft’s loyal Windows Insider testing community was also surprising for such a huge new feature.

The first of the new Copilot+PCs are launching next week (June 18th), and in an expected update have said that their headlining “Windows Recall” feature will not be shipped at launch and  now arrive a few weeks later in an update.

Is Windows Recall too much?

Recall was heavily criticised after sourced said that recall stored it’s Recall  data in an unencrypted state, raising huge concerns among IT experts, users and anti-Windows fans!

Last week, Microsoft released a blog and announcement to try to alleviate these concerns by reassuring people that Windows Recall would encrypt data and require the user to be physically present at the device (via multi factor authentication) to access recall. They were clear however, that not only was Recall safe but they it would ship next week with the arrival of the Copilot+PCs.

The Cisilion Fireside Chat suspected so much.

Just this week, I hosted a fireside chat, and we discussed the view of Recall from a security and privacy violation.

There’s a link to the episode here if you’d like to hear the views of a number of IT leaders…but the view of my customer panel ahead of (the now postponed) launch include:

We’ve gone to extraordinary lengths to protect our data and here we are Tada you can now just have a look at what Kim was sharing three minutes ago.” [link]

“It undermines years and years and years of work and unless they can work out a way there’s no way I’m letting this anywhere near my en.” [00:08:25][Link]

“You are the attack surface… we have to remind the the owners of the business that ultimately it’s their heads on the Block if things go wrong.” [00:45:32]

In short, our panel, beleived that Recall might face significant challenges before its implementation, possibly leading to its postponement or modification, especially in enterprise environments. They highlight the need for clear communication, education, and possibly policy changes to address the concerns raised – looks like this is exactly what happened.

Microsoft committed to trust and privacy but is it enough?

Just earlier this week, Microsoft had said that all images are encrypted, stored and analyzed locally, using on-device AI capabilities to understand their context. When logged into your Copilot+ PC, you can easily retrace your steps visually using Recall to find things from apps, websites, images, and documents that you’ve seen, operating like your own virtual and completely private “photographic memory.” You are always in control of what’s saved. You can disable saving snapshots, pause temporarily, filter applications and delete your snapshots at any time.

The question still on people minds is is this enough, how does this work if viewing content other people are sharing on screen when Recall is being used and what happens if a device is compromised or user subject to ransomware or phishing attack and get access to this device…

Postponed not cancelled?

Perhaps to ensure the backlash over recall doesn’t impact Copilot+PC sales, these new devices will not ship with Recall initially. Microsoft have said that Windows Recall will be added in a future Windows update, but has not given a timeframe for when this will be. This will give their huge Windows Insider Community time to test this with Microsoft and provide the much needed feedback, tuning controls and more.

The updated Microsoft blog post states the following:

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. 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

Copilot+PCs still get loads of new AI Goodness.

Of course, Recall wasn’t the only AI infused feature that Copilot+PCs will include, and the other rest of the AI features that Microsoft showcased will still be available to use. These include live captions and translations across all apps, new Windows Studio Effects for meetings and video, new. Image creation and generation tools across the stock Windows Apps including paint and photos.

Time will tell

Time and testing wil tell whether this feature gets simply delayed, hugely altered or scrapped all together. What do you think?

Microsoft June 13 2024 Blog Post: https://blogs.windows.com/windowsexperience/2024/06/07/update-on-the-recall-preview-feature-for-copilot-pcs/

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