A new mechanism being tested on Windows 11 in the Beta Channel allows apps to access system occupancy sensors to optimize PC resource consumption
Microsoft is experimenting with a new tool that will allow apps to detect the user’s presence. The new privacy setting called “Presence detection” will allow apps to query device sensors to check user activity and thus optimize resource consumption and refine the experience.
The configuration is contained in Build 22624.1610 of Windows 11 distributed in the Beta Channel, released on Thursday (14) in compilation KB5025299. According to the feature’s documentation, the option gives access to a mechanism that “represents a sensor that detects whether a user is present, absent, or not interacting with their device.”
Microsoft does not specify how it perceives user activity, but it is likely that the system has native mechanisms that use mouse movement and keystrokes to detect presence. That way, the computer can see if the PC is in use, but without being so invasive.
The new option would give the user control over app access to the detection system — if he doesn’t want it, activity data can remain hidden. However, the function provides a more refined experience, allowing, for example, the app to suspend activity or reduce resource consumption when the machine is not in use.
It’s worth noting that Windows activity data is entirely local, so it’s not sent to Microsoft’s servers for processing. However, access to information can allow applications to capture the user’s activity pattern to assemble usage statistics, for example.
Where to find presence detection?
Windows 11 presence detection can be enabled in Settings > Privacy & Security > Privacy Detection.
Currently, there is no forecast for the definitive release of the feature and, for now, only testers have access to it.
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