Microsoft’s New Recall Feature: AI-Powered Screenshots on Surface Devices Raise Privacy Concerns

Lately, Microsoft started incorporating Qualcomm processors with the ARM architecture in its Surface line and included a Neural Processing Unit with 45 TOPs. The Intel Core processors described above are compliant with the Microsoft’s AI PC necessities which warrants a minimum of 40 TOPS. After this, MS released a set of novelties only for the devices with integrated NPUs, and the Recall function raised the most discussions.


Recall function may not be a term one hears on a daily basis, but it is an important aspect of everyday life as it is used in Mathematics when determining the number of items to be bought, drawn or retrieved among other uses.

The Recall function works by capturing partial results of DNN evaluations periodically as screenshots that are then saved to the device’s local memory. A user can go back to their activity log which contains these screenshots, and perform a search on the content of the text or the image using Artificial Intelligence. Since all the processing is happening locally involving the NPU, there are no uploads to the Microsoft servers in principle, in order to preserve the users’ privacy.

Privacy Concerns

However, there are fears over Recall function as privacy experts have claimed with Microsoft’s word that it would not allow third parties to access the content. In a bid to answer questions regarding the function as well as the processing of data in the UK territory, the data protection office has written to Microsoft.

Microsoft stressed that Recall is built with privacy at the center. For example, It does not record DRM-protected items and protects all recorded data using a BitLocker encryption system. It should be noted that starting with the new Windows 11 24H2 update, BitLocker encryption will be enabled by default.

The Core Issue

It is not the Recall function most users will take issue with, however, what the function captures in screenshots periodically is another thing entirely. If the device is to fall into the hands of an unfortunate third party who is a[email protected] then the owner of the device could be exposed to account numbers and passwords. Microsoft is keen to ensure that it points out that the data is stored and processed locally, nevertheless, the risks are there in case a third party gains access.

Microsoft’s Stance

Microsoft argues that this process is done locally and thus big risks to the privacy of the users are eliminated. They say that since it is possible to get physical or remote access to a computer, one can obtain sensitive information irrespective the Recall function. Hence, the issue of privacy should not be blown out of proportion.

User Control

The Recall feature is integrated into the Windows operating system but users who are privy to privacy can turn off the application’s function. But if third parties get control of the device, then the access is unauthorized any way.


Microsoft’s Recall provides special improvements of the function based on the AI that will move the user interface of Surface devices. However, it serves a controversy as it regards privacy and data protection concerns. Despite the measures that Microsoft has put in place, the user should provide extra measures of precaution to save their information.

For those who were mortified at the idea of their experiences being recalled by the system, the Recall function, of course, can be turned off easily. However, the primary concern of devises remain the paramount question of how to protect the device from unauthorized access.

Despite the progress in the use of technology, there are still issues in the pursuit of innovation while also maintaining respect for the individuals’ privacy. Microsoft’s Recall function is a good example of this constant battle, which ignited further debate on how people could protect their lives that are being digitized.