Microsoft's cavalier attitude toward privacy in the Windows Live Essentials applications has drawn the ire of many. Several of your users are probably downloading and trying the new beta versions of Windows Live Messenger, Photo Gallery, Mail, Live Sync, and Writer, collectively known as the Windows Live Essentials 2011 beta.
They might expect that the new privacy setting screen -- prominently offering an option to keep their information private -- would protect them from Microsoft's more egregious privacy-busting proclivities. Think again. While some privacy protections have changed and improved, others remain the same. Warn your users.
[ Also on InfoWorld: See J. Peter Bruzzese's review of Windows Live Essentials in his Enterprise Windows blog, Windows Live Essentials: Does it hit or miss the mark? ]
Consider this sobering scenario: You and your boss use Windows Live Messenger (or MSN Messenger or Windows Messenger) to keep in touch. One day, you get a job offer from Snidely Whiplash at a competing company across town. You and Snidely have a brief IM conversation, using Messenger. Innocent and private, yes? Well, no.
The next time your boss logs into Hotmail -- not Messenger, mind you, but Hotmail -- your boss glances at the initial Hotmail screen and sees that you and Snidely have become "friends." That's what the notice says: "Woody Leonhard and Snidely Whiplash are now friends."
Hard to believe, but that's how Microsoft's Messenger invitation system works. It works that way with the older version of Messenger (so-called Wave 3). It works that way with the new Wave 4 beta version of Messenger 2011, too.
With the current Wave 3 version of Messenger, when you extend an invitation to someone, asking them to participate in a Messenger conversation, Messenger advises that "When you add someone to Messenger, they also become part of your network on Windows Live." When the person you invite to participate in an IM conversation accepts your invitation, using the Wave 3 version of Messenger, he or she clicks Yes on a dialog box that says, "Do you want to add this person to Messenger? Messenger contacts are part of your network on Windows Live."