Do you want free Windows Vista
Ultimate? Do you want free Windows Office Ultimate and a bevy
of other exciting Microsoft products? That was the question
that Microsoft asked users in a short-lived promotion that was put to
an end yesterday, in hopes of finding some human guinea pigs for its
The big catch -- you had to sign away your
rights to privacy and let Microsoft monitor every second of your
computer use for three months. At the start you would have to
fill out a survey for Microsoft, and every two weeks after that you
would have to complete an additional survey.
promotion was eloquently titled the Windows Feedback Program, and
required the user to be a U.S. resident, over 18, and in possession
of a computer with either Windows XP or Windows Vista.
cut the program yesterday afternoon (12/11/2007), but is still warmly
accepting new subjects sans the free software. Some users might
be a bit riled to discover this, as Microsoft explained that anyone
who signed up after the
cutoff yesterday, would still be monitored, even though they would
not be receiving any of the free gifts. Apparently ignorance
really is not an excuse, according to Microsoft.
networking sites like Facebook
snooping on users, exposed
Canadian passport applications, millions
of lost bank numbers in Britain, and companies like Comcast
wiretaps for $1,000 a pop, Microsoft's short-lived promotion
enters these annals as an interesting test of users valuation of
to a recent study, surprisingly, most users were perfectly eager
to give up private information for a rather abstract feeling of
trustworthiness from a website. So how much would those tough
cookies who wouldn't give their info for free cost?
The question of valuation of ones
dignity harks back to an infamous exchange between an inebriated
Winston Churchill and a female aristocrat at a formal dinner party.
Perhaps the world will never know the true answer, as for now
Microsoft's freebie giveaway is over.