In the recently released Windows 10, Microsoft introduced new Telemetry and Data Collection features which will not give you the option to opt out. These services are collecting various information about the software installed on your PC and even personal data stored on your computer. Microsoft claims they may not be used to personally identify you but no one is comfortable with this kind of shady data collection. This change has had a very negative impression on the Windows 10 OS. Now Microsoft has brought similar Telemetry and Data Collection features mainstream directly to Windows 7 and Windows 8 family of operating systems.
If you have Windows Update enabled in your Windows 7 or Windows 8, you might have noticed that a bunch of new updates are available for your operating system which add more telemetry and data collection services to your OS besides the one already present which you can opt out of. This is a notable change for all users who consider Windows versions prior to Windows 10 as relatively private and safe.
Once these updates are installed, Windows 7 and Windows 8 will start sending collected data using the HTTPS protocol to the following Microsoft servers:
Another thing that's out of your control is that the operating system ignores any lines you may have added to the HOSTS file, so you cannot block the IP addresses of those servers in the usual way. They are hardcoded into system files and cannot be turned off easily.
The following updates bring more thorough telemetry and data collecting features to your older operating systems:
If you don't wish to share any data whatsoever with Microsoft, you should not install these updates.
Due to such radical changes made by Microsoft in recent months, I think it's not a bad idea to consider an alternative operating system for daily use. Personally, I already switched to Linux a few years ago after Microsoft started eliminating user choices from Windows. I have stuck with Arch Linux for a while.