Scroogled, my ass

Microsoft makes hay on its Scroogled claims while conveniently side-stepping its own dirty secrets

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Make no mistake: When Pann talks about "putting our customers first," he's talking about advertisers. So Yahoo harvests the keywords and delivers them to Bing, where Microsoft's engine delivers "big traffic increases with better ad-matching technology."

Scroogled, my ass.

Microsoft claims, on the website, that "we don't scan the content of your email to target you with ads." The main page goes on to say, "Microsoft does not scan your email for the purpose of serving you ads. The ads that you see in your inbox are served to you on the basis of info that you give Microsoft, including the demographic details you provide when you register your account." But if you dig a little deeper, into the Microsoft Online Privacy Statement, the web's cast quite a bit wider:

In order to access some Microsoft services, you will be asked to sign in with an email address and password, which we refer to as your Microsoft account. By signing in on one Microsoft site or service, you may be automatically signed into other Microsoft sites and services that use Microsoft account ... we receive certain standard information that your browser sends to every website you visit, such as your IP address, browser type and language, access times, and referring Web site addresses. We also use Web site analytics tools on our sites to retrieve information from your browser, including the site you came from, the search engine(s) and the keywords you used to find our site, the pages you view within our site, your browser add-ons, and your browser's width and height. We use technologies, such as cookies and Web beacons ... to collect information about the pages you view, the links you click, and other actions you take on our sites and services. We also deliver advertisements ... and provide website analytics tools on non-Microsoft sites and services, and we collect information about page views on these third-party sites as well. When you receive newsletters or promotional email from Microsoft, we may use web beacons, ... customized links, or similar technologies to determine whether the e-mail has been opened and which links you click in order to provide you more focused email communications or other information ... information collected through one Microsoft service may be combined with information obtained through other Microsoft services. We may also supplement the information we collect with information obtained from other companies.

Thus, while Microsoft clearly scans the contents of your Hotmail/ email to guard against spamming and malware, and it associates your Microsoft account and email addresses with a sizable basket of collected data, Microsoft doesn't scan your email for advertising-related keywords. That's certainly laudable, even if the rules are different for Yahoo.

But it also reinforces the problems with using a Microsoft account for activities other than retrieving mail from, sharing settings in Internet Explorer, or using Skype (which is being investigated for collusion with the NSA). Starting with Windows 8, Microsoft has been pushing Windows users to sign on to Windows using a Microsoft account. In Windows 8.1, setting up a new account on a Windows machine is heavily biased toward using or creating a Microsoft account. (To create a local, non-Microsoft, account in Windows 8.1 takes three nonintuitive, poorly identified steps.)

Microsoft's going to get a big dose of local information from that Microsoft account tie-in, if and/or when Windows 8 ever reaches critical mass. As a Microsoft customer that means, unless you're very careful, Microsoft will have full records of when you log on to a Windows machine, where the machine's located, what version of Windows it's running, and heaven only knows what other details.

Scroogled? Gimme a break. Does Google coerce you into logging on to Android devices with a Gmail account?

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