Data flows and privacy controls for Office 2016

The following describes current data flows between Office 2016 applications for Windows 10 desktop and services, including data that flows from users, both home and business customers, to Microsoft services. Data from the Microsoft applications you install on a device goes to different Microsoft server and services (endpoints) and has different privacy controls. The following explains what each of these endpoints are and how Microsoft manages privacy for this data.

The data flow and privacy control information covered here applies to the following Office 2016 desktop applications:

  • Word

  • Excel

  • PowerPoint

  • OneNote

There are different types of data flows starting with data that stays on the device and extending to data that flows from the device to Microsoft. The available privacy controls vary depending on where the data flows.

Note: This is a list of current controls for Office 2016 and Windows 10. We're working to provide additional information and details to keep this up-to-date with the changes that are made to the products and services listed above. For additional information, contact your IT administrator or Microsoft.

To provide transparency about Office data flows, the information is divided into scenarios that apply to consumers, scenarios that apply to commercial users, and scenarios that apply to both. The links in the tables will take you directly to the pertinent information.

The following Office data flows are common to all Office for home and Office for business installations:

Additional Office data flows depend on the type of Office installation you have and are described in the following table. To determine which type of Office installation that you have, go to File > Account in an Office app, such as Word, and look in the Product Information section.

Type of Office installation

Office data flows that apply**

Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office 365

Office applications and Microsoft servers or services – administered by Microsoft

Microsoft Office 365 Business

Office applications and Office for business servers or services - administered by the customer

Office applications and Microsoft servers or services – administered by Microsoft

Office applications and non-Microsoft services

Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus*

Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2016*

Office applications and Office for business servers or services - administered by the customer

Office applications and Microsoft servers or services – administered by Microsoft

Office applications and non-Microsoft services

Microsoft Office Standard 2016*

Office applications and Office for business servers or services - administered by the customer

Office applications and non-Microsoft services

*To determine if your services are administered by Microsoft or not, please contact your IT administrator. If you don’t have an IT administrator, your services are administered by Microsoft.

**These Office data flows are in addition to the Office data flows that apply to both home and business installations of Office.

All Office data flows

The following privacy scenarios apply to all versions of Office. Additional Office data flows depend on the type of Office installation. The data flows dependent on the installation type are listed in the table above.

Office applications and local device

Data flows between the applications and the device operating system:    Data used on the device, such as local storage of a photo.

For this data flow, there are privacy controls available such as the following:

  • You, and device administrators, can manage access to data on their device, such as the permissions to a photo stored on their device.

  • You can control data flows with platform controls, such as those outlined in operating system access controls.

  • When you uninstall an application, the local data installed as part of the application is deleted, but content stored outside the application remains on your device under your control. For example, if you uninstall Word it removes the Word executable, but your documents remain where you saved them.

Office applications and Microsoft services

Data flows between Office applications using Microsoft services:    Client data used by Microsoft cloud services, such as Smart LookUp, Translation and Bing Weather. There are additional data flows between Office applications and Microsoft services based on the type of installation you have. These are described in the appropriate installation-specific sections.

For this data flow, there are privacy controls available such as the following:

  • You can control Office data flowing to Office services by disabling the Connected Services setting in the Office Trust Center.

  • You can choose to use cloud services, such as Smart Lookup and Translation. The first time you use an Office feature that leverages cloud services, you’ll receive contextual notice and make a choice about using that feature.

  • IT administrators can use admin toggles to disable cloud service operations and related Microsoft service operations.

  • You can control data to Bing and other services using end user facing privacy controls.

  • You can delete your account resulting in the account data being scheduled for deletion. Learn more for business, Learn more for home.

Office telemetry

Telemetry data flows between Office clients and Microsoft:    Microsoft uses this performance and usage data to help improve the quality of Office and Office services. The use of telemetry data is restricted as described in the Microsoft Privacy Statement. In particular, see the Personal Data We Collect and How We Use Personal Data sections. As a result, there are fewer controls for you to manage.

Telemetry data collection is managed by trained privacy professionals and is consistent with corporate privacy policies and commitments. This data is then processed to anonymize usage and activity telemetry data. Then, aggregated telemetry data is available for Microsoft to track our overall performance and adoption as reported in our public quarterly earnings report based on aggregated usage data. This is the type of data that can be used for non-customized advertising and controls exist on that usage as well. Only non-personal, de-identified usage data is available for consumer advertising using only advertising identifiers, not names or emails. Office does not use any of this data for advertising for enterprise customers.

For this data flow, there are privacy controls available such as the following:

  • You can control how Microsoft Marketing uses usage and activity data for promotional communications as controlled by your preferences in How to Access & Control Your Personal Data.

  • Although it is outside the scope of what is covered in this document, you and IT Admins can also limit telemetry data flows over Universal applications such as Mail, Calendar and Get Office as documented in the article on Windows 10 telemetry.

Office for home data flow scenarios

The following privacy scenario is specific to home versions of Office. Additional Office data flows depend on the type of Office installation. The data flows dependent on the installation type are described in the table found earlier in this article.

Office applications and Microsoft servers or services – administered by Microsoft

Data flows between applications and Microsoft servers or services that are administered by Microsoft:   The type of Office installation can be checked by looking at File > Account. For example, a subscription installation will be called Microsoft Office 365. These servers are typically accessed using your Microsoft Services Account. Examples of the Office 365 cloud services include Identity services, licensing, OneDrive, and recently used documents. Some cloud services are essential to the application operation such as OneNote synchronization with the OneNote cloud service.

For this data flow, there are privacy controls available such as the following:

  • You can choose to save or delete your data to the cloud, such as on OneDrive.

  • You can disable some of these data flows with the connected services control described in Trust Center.

  • You can delete your account resulting in the account data being scheduled for deletion. Learn more for home

Office for business data flow scenarios

The following privacy scenarios are specific to Office for business installations. Additional Office data flows depend on the type of Office installation. The data flows dependent on the installation type are described in the table found earlier in this article.

Office applications and Microsoft servers or services – administered by Microsoft

Data flows between applications and Microsoft servers or services that are administered by Microsoft:     The type of Office installation can be checked by looking at File > Account. For example, a subscription installation will be called Microsoft Office 365 Business or Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus. Examples of non-subscription installations include Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2016 or Microsoft Office Standard 2016. These servers are typically accessed using your Organizational Account. Examples of the Office 365 cloud services include Licensing, Activation, OneDrive, and recently used documents. Some cloud services are essential to the application operation such as Outlook synchronization with the Exchange service.

For this data flow, there are privacy controls available such as the following:

  • You can choose to save or delete your data to the cloud, such as on OneDrive for Business.

  • IT administrators can use admin toggles to disable cloud service operations and related Microsoft service operations.

  • You can disable some of these data flows with the connected services control described in Trust Center.

  • You can delete your account resulting in the account data being scheduled for deletion. Learn more for business

Office applications and Office for business servers or services - administered by the customer

Data flows between applications and Microsoft Office for business servers or services that are administered by the enterprise customer:     Work or school IT administrators can advise users whether applications and services are operated by Microsoft or not. These servers are typically accessed using your work or school account. The type of Office installation can be checked by looking at File > Account. For example, a subscription installation will be called Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus or Microsoft Office 365 Business. Examples of the Office 365 cloud services include Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive for Business. Some cloud services are essential to the application operation such as OneNote synchronization with the OneNote cloud service.

For this data flow, there are privacy controls available such as the following:

  • You have access to your cloud content data, such as that stored on OneDrive for Business

  • IT administrators can control data flows based on their risk assessment, which include configurations, settings, or toggles from a technical perspective as well as licensing and Online Service Terms. Please see Office 365 Trust Center Privacy for more details

  • You can disable some of these data flows with the connected services control described in Trust Center.

  • IT Admins can refer to the Office 365 admin center for more information

  • You can delete your account resulting in the account data being scheduled for deletion. Learn more for business

Office applications and non-Microsoft services

Data flows between applications and servers or services not operated by Microsoft:    Work or school IT administrators can advise users whether applications and services are operated by Microsoft or not. User data can flow to on-premises servers, such as servers running Exchange Server or SharePoint Server. Ask your IT administrator for details about these data flows. Some on-premises services are essential to the application operation such as emails from Outlook to the Exchange Server.

For this data flow, there are privacy controls available such as the following:

  • You, and IT administrators, can control access Most Recently Used (MRU) documents that provides the list of a user's most recently used documents.

  • IT administrator on-premises managed services, such as access controls in SharePoint on-premises.

  • End users have access to their server content data, such as Word files saved in SharePoint on-premises

There is an end user facing Office Privacy Control that disables some of these data flows.

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