Microsoft today announced the removal of the Wi-Fi Sensor, Wi-Fi Sense, which allows Windows to automatically connect to Wi-Fi networks.
Of all the controversial features that were discovered at the launch of Windows 10, Wi-Fi Sense was, ironically, the least meaningful of all, for its dubious usefulness and the consequences for our privacy. Or at least, that’s what it looked like.
The function of Wi-Fi Sense is simple: find and connect to Wi-Fi networks different from ours, whether they are public hotspots, or private networks. It does it in a curious way: obtaining information from the Wi-fi networks to which our friends connect.
The system that allows you to automatically connect Windows to Wi-Fi networks
By default, Wi-Fi Sense collects data about the Wi-Fi network to which we are connected, such as ID and password, and Shares them with the computers, smartphones and tablets on our contact list. That way, when these people are close to our home or have entered as guests, they can use our Wi-Fi network without having to ask for their password.
It is difficult to criticize Wi-Fi Sense considering that it is one of the most innovative pieces of software included in Windows 10, and that it focuses on a very interesting aspect, the crowdsourcing, obtaining information using our network of friends. It is a concept that we normally associate with crowdfunding and other alternative methods to make ideas come true, and that one would not expect to see from Microsoft.
However, when implementing crowdsourcing without properly advising the user, without explaining their positive and negative points and without taking into account key aspects such as privacy, it gives the feeling that Microsoft went into crowdsourcing like an elephant in a pot.
The importance of explaining well how a functionality works
Instead of presenting all the data to users, Most people discovered Wi-Fi Sense when it made the headlines: Windows tells your Wi-Fi password to the first one that passes. A simple search on Google reveals the fear that this function aroused, although those fears were a bit far from the reality of an automated system that asked us for permission to access our contacts.
The result is obvious, and Microsoft itself has confirmed this when it published today the new build14342 of the previous version of Windows 10, which in a few weeks will become the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Wi-Fi Sense will be removed with this update, simply because almost no one uses this functionality and it is not worth continuing to maintain your code.
Perhaps Wi-Fi Sense could have succeeded among groups of friends, in companies that want to connect all their workers to the corporate Wi-Fi network, or to event organizers; of course Wi-Fi Sense is more secure than writing the network password down on paper, but Microsoft did not explain to us appropriately that this was the case, and that is why this idea would remain a bad memory.