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Microsoft: Everybody Else is Doing it

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Microsoft is tracking your data.

But so are Google and Yahoo!, as they are so quick to point out when confronted by the House.

A classic example of the "but everybody else is doing it" excuse that they taught us in D.A.R.E. in elementary school.

The drug of choice for search giants is not crack or pot though. It is ad-targeting – learning about you so they can fill your screen with advertisements from companies whose profits would be in their own best interest.

At least we’re getting relevant ads

It may seem like you are just getting relevant results, but as Marketing Shift breaks it down in "regular people" terms, it has those companies’ best interests in mind; not giving you the best information.

Silicon Alley Insider points to the official excuse document from Microsoft, who says that they’ve been collecting data since 2006, but the practice was boosted by the acquisition of aQuantive.

Just opt out.

Microsoft claims that users can opt-out of having their data collected, but finding the way to do this is the hard part, which is probably why only 1,800 people have actually opted out. That and the fact that the option just became available this past Spring.

For those of you who wish to utilize the feature, go to live.com, click the small "privacy" link at the bottom, then in the middle of that page filled with text, look for a link that says "display of advertising", then click that and look for yet another link on that page that says "opt-out page". Somewhere in the middle of that page you can find a couple of checkboxes and an "apply" button.

That’s simple enough right? By the way, you must be signed in if you want the change to be applied from any computer.

Microsoft: Everybody Else is Doing it
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  • http://www.rankbetterseo.com seo syracuse

    they seem to like to hide the opt out process.

    • Chris Crum

      It doesn’t exactly stand out.

  • http://www.logodesignnext.com/blog logo design blog

    My girlfriend found the opt out option in the second try. She is so proud of this achievement that she has decided to take the whole day off from work.

    Btw, she is a web marketer and spends 14+ hours a day on the web.

    Us non-web folks don’t have much chance.

  • Guest

    "Even if you choose not to receive personalized advertising, Microsoft will continue to collect the same information as you browse the web and use our online services. However, this information and any information collected from you in the past won’t be used for displaying personalized ads."

  • http://www.propdata.co.za/ Robert

    I still don’t get the big deal over "targeted advertising".  Unless you are afraid that you might be served porn ads while running a presentation due to browser history I don’t get the big deal.

    Rather show me ads for things I might actually be interested in.  Because lets face it, the search results aren’t exactly all that great.

  • Stomfi

    After trying out Vista on a Dell XPS 3GB Core Duo and being totally blown away by how slow it was compared to XP on less powerful hardware, I copped out of the whole Microsoft saga and replaced Vista with 5 partitions, all running different flavours of Linux or BSD.

    Now only Google and the rest of the Internet cookie brigade can spy on me, albeit 3 times faster than on Vista.

  • Don

    "Microsoft claims that users can opt-out of having their data collected, but finding the way to do this is the hard part, which is probably why only 1,800 people have actually opted out."

    Make that 1,801. As a general principle I opt out of everything whenever possible. It’s pretty amazing how tough some companies make it. 

    I have reduced my snail mail junk mail by about a ton a year. I make a concerted effort to reduce junk emails as well.

    If I want to hear about some-one’s "amazing once in a lifetime offer" I’ll go to them.  

     

  • Peter

    According to the page that’s presented after you opt out, they continue to track you.  What you have opted out of, is "targetted advertising", not tracking…

    Even if you choose not to receive personalized advertising, Microsoft will continue to collect the same information as you browse the web and use our online services. However, this information and any information collected from you in the past won’t be used for displaying personalized ads.

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