Personalized Ads and Cortana
If you hate the fact that Microsoft and others always seem to know what you just looked at and they use this information to entice you with ads for similar items, there is a way to turn these ads off. Stay in the Privacy area. Choose Manage my Microsoft adverting and other personalization info at the bottom of the Privacy screen. The next screen gives you information about personalized ads. Clicking on the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) will give you even more information and the opportunity to opt-out of personalized ads by company. Unfortunately, this information is provided by Microsoft, so it only covers the Edge browser. If you use some other browser you can access the DAA from that browser to get a list of companies that are providing customized ads.
I was amazed to find several computers with almost 100 companies customizing ads. Remember, this will not turn off all ads, but only prevent personalization of ads.
Windows 10 Privacy with Cortana
As useful as Cortana is, she is also pretty invasive. Microsoft gathers information about you to help her provide answers. All of that information is stored in the cloud. You don’t have to set up Cortana at all, but if you do you will want to look at what she is collecting.
Type Cortana in the search box and choose Cortana & Search settings. A small window will popup showing you the Cortana Settings. This is where you can customize and/or control Cortana.
As mentioned above, you can turn off your microphone completely, but Microsoft also uses your browsing history to help Cortana if she is enabled. You can turn this off by clicking on three dots on the top right corner of Edge and choosing Settings, Advanced Settings, and View Advanced Settings. Under Privacy and services turn off “Have Cortana Assist Me in Microsoft Edge.” In the same area, you can choose to not have Microsoft save passwords and several other interesting settings.