Print 56 comment(s) - last by sprockkets.. on Dec 24 at 1:08 AM

Microsoft is no longer letting people get its latest software in exchange for their privacy

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 research. 

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. 

The 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.

Microsoft 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.

With social networking sites like Facebook snooping on users, exposed Canadian passport applications, millions of lost bank numbers in Britain, and companies like Comcast selling wiretaps for $1,000 a pop, Microsoft's short-lived promotion enters these annals as an interesting test of users valuation of their privacy. 

According 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.

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Wish I'd heard about it
By FITCamaro on 12/12/2007 11:23:47 AM , Rating: 5
I would have gladly signed up for my video server box that just sits there all day with light web usage. Have been wanting Vista just haven't had the money.

RE: Wish I'd heard about it
By geddarkstorm on 12/12/2007 12:09:19 PM , Rating: 5
Yeah seriously :/. Why didn't DailyTech run anything about this while the promotion was still happening? Kinda disappointing to be told after the fact. Oh well, for those who don't spend all day surfing the web, some things slip by.

RE: Wish I'd heard about it
By AlexWade on 12/12/07, Rating: -1
RE: Wish I'd heard about it
By Aikouka on 12/12/2007 1:19:59 PM , Rating: 5
What's annoying and what's inefficient? I have Vista on two machines and have no qualms with it, yet it seems everyone that I hear say "ugh Vista" can never provide a reason for their dislike. The typical response is, "I've heard... [some negative thing]."

RE: Wish I'd heard about it
By Jedi2155 on 12/12/2007 1:37:32 PM , Rating: 4
Although I like Vista overall...

My qualms are the following:

Program Incompatibilities
GUI features that are no longer there (Up button in explorer for example)
Programs (especially IE & WMP) randomly crashes a lot (fresh install).
A few bugs and quirks here and there that will just irk me until I figure them out.

RE: Wish I'd heard about it
By sprockkets on 12/12/2007 2:23:36 PM , Rating: 5

Sound cannot output to SPDIF with analog at the same time
No more cdrom input for my video capture card making it useless
Cannot have aeroglass effects while having the video tv tuner operational, though probably only for certain cards
Sound system majorly overhauled to eliminate sound glitches yet is actually more present in Vista than in XP
This also broke Sound Blaster cards and still they have issues. I don't care who is to blame; the fault does not exist on XP.
Complaints of people who have driver support for their printer/scanner/etc. yet the software bundled with it fails to work.
Changed/renamed locations of various controls for the sake of change
No more monitoring of defragmentation progress.
HP2200 series print driver lacks features to drive printer properly
No more Intel Wireless control over Intel Wireless cards
We address the "slow" issue by using USB flash memory drives

As already mentioned here, performance is slower in office vs. XP. Make the argument about how more features=less performance, but aside from built in spyware protection, aeroglass and other features, nothing makes vista more appealing to the average joe. All of a sudden OSX doesn't look so bad.

RE: Wish I'd heard about it
By FITCamaro on 12/13/2007 12:02:14 AM , Rating: 1
Nearly all the problems you list there are driver related and the fault of lazy hardware manufacturers, not Microsoft. It is not their job to write drivers for other manufacturers. Only to give them advanced notice that the driver model is changing and help with writing new drivers. Which they did. Hardware manufacturers had 2+ years to write proper drivers. They choose not to. Yell at them, not Microsoft.

Running on my parents new PC with an X2 4200+, 2GB RAM, 80GB hard drive, integrated Nvidia graphics, and onboard sound, Vista Premium x64 is performing practically flawlessly for them. There's a hiccup here and there, but nothing major. All the drivers for their stuff works.

RE: Wish I'd heard about it
By sprockkets on 12/24/2007 1:08:38 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, but the driver for the HP2200 DOES exist. It either does not support the duplex feature or 1200 dpi resolution, (because they didn't bother making a more specific HP2200D driver) depending on whether I use the built in driver or a generic PCL6 driver (no 1200dpi on the dowloadable generic driver from HP, or no duplex feature on the built in Microsoft driver). Btw, neither issues exists on CUPS in Linux and probably OSX as well.

Program writers do not make updates to address the issue; they just want you to buy the newer version. Case in point: Nero 6 OEM can be forced installed on Vista, but will not work, and never will. Vista will warn and balk and flat out try to stop you from putting it in. Guess what you need to solve it? Nero 7 OEM. Thanks Nero! Cheaper for me to buy a new drive with it than pay $70 for the full version.

And as for the other issues, they are by Microsoft's design, not anyone's negligence. Save for Creative of course.

RE: Wish I'd heard about it
By MrDiSante on 12/12/2007 6:56:12 PM , Rating: 1
Program Incompatibilities - Get a patch from your software vendor. I personally, have not had any (non-driver) related software incompatibilities since RTM and none at all since April
GUI - use the damn ribbon. Wanna go up a level? Click on the appropriate level on the ribbon. An up button is redundant and clutters the interface. Use the backspace key if it's that important to you.
Crashes - Don't know how clean your install is: you must've already screwed something up in it. IE might crash once in a couple of months, but haven't had WMP crash on me once.
Bugs & Quirks - "until [I] figure them out" so they're not bugs and quirks. Either they're bugs in which case they get patched or they're changes in the interface/whatnot that you need to figure out. I'm guessing it's the latter.

RE: Wish I'd heard about it
By neothe0ne on 12/13/2007 3:53:00 PM , Rating: 2
"GUI - use the damn ribbon. Wanna go up a level? Click on the appropriate level on the ribbon. An up button is redundant and clutters the interface. Use the backspace key if it's that important to you."

You're wrong. The backspace key functions as Back, not Up, in my Vista.

By TimTheEnchanter25 on 12/12/2007 3:03:17 PM , Rating: 4
Yeah, I upgraded to Vista on my 3 yr old desktop and I have it on my laptop that came preloaded. There is a major difference in running it on older hardware without official drivers and running it on new hardware. I think that at least 75% of the "issues" people have with Vista are driver related or from too low of system specs.

I'm convinced that the problems I have on my desktop are all from not being able to get good vista drivers for my hardware. I'm not very happy that the hardware companies won't make an effort to take care of this problem (I'm shocked that ASUS hasn't done it), but that isn't really a Vista problem (excpet for the fact that MS changed the way drivers need to be written).

I talked to quite a few people that were looking at new laptops for Christmas and they were pissed that they had to get Vista on them. I asked them why they didn't want Vista, and they all said it is because the Apple commercials say that people don't like it... After I tell them that Apple just wants you to buy a Mac instead, they all say that they wouldn't do that, they just want XP.

I bought XP the first day it came out and never thought about Win 98 again. I think it is funny how many people bad mouthed XP and talked about there not being a reason to ever leave 98, and now those same people think XP is so great and there is no reason to ever switch to Vista. In a couple years those people will realize that Vista is better than XP.

XP has been great, but the good parts of Vista outweigh the bad. Plus, I know that MS is going to continue to improve things just like they did with XP.

RE: Wish I'd heard about it
By Savvin on 12/12/2007 1:33:40 PM , Rating: 4
Everyone has their own opinion, and perhaps he would actually like Vista even if you don't. No harm in giving it a try if you can get it for free. Either way, I'm pretty sure Vista will follow XP's footsteps over time and continue to improve just as it has since it's release almost a year ago. It's much improved already.

I find it interesting how easily a lot of people have forgotten how messed up XP was upon it's release. XP never really became a great OS until SP2 was released, plugging all the holes and adding the missing features that it should have already had. Short term memory I guess.

Anyway, I'm confident that Vista will continue to improve. Personally, I really like Vista and in many ways it is FAR superior to XP. That doesn't mean it's perfect as their are still some issues that need to be resolved, but in my opinion Vista is in no way as bad as some try and make it sound. Too each his own.

RE: Wish I'd heard about it
By Screwballl on 12/13/07, Rating: 0
RE: Wish I'd heard about it
By walk2k on 12/12/2007 1:31:58 PM , Rating: 2
I signed up yesterday as well, but just got the email this morning. I took the online survey, and downloaded the software, but am going to wait to install it at home, since it says you're supposed to install it at home.

Anyway I didn't get a chance to "select" any free software... is that going to happen after I install the s/w? Or is it too late..

By the way, it tells you exactly what information it collects, and it's no big deal.. for a free copy of Vista Ultimate ($350?), I'll gladly do it...

It collects:
1) computer type, cpu, ram etc.
2) control panel settings, desktop resolution etc...
3) what programs you use
4) how many files and folders you have in certain common folders (ie My Document) - not the contents of course, just how many..

Doesn't seem real draconian, for 3 months, for a free copy of $350 OS...

RE: Wish I'd heard about it
By NARC4457 on 12/12/2007 3:26:11 PM , Rating: 2
It's too late - the choice was made when you signed up.

RE: Wish I'd heard about it
By SpeedEng66 on 12/12/2007 3:53:01 PM , Rating: 2
I also signed up @ 7am on 12-11
(I think I got to choose office ult when I went to the site the first time)
but I didnt dl/ take the survey until 11pm

let see if I get it =/

RE: Wish I'd heard about it
By mindless1 on 12/15/2007 4:17:00 AM , Rating: 2
What in the world are you talking about? There is zero need for Vista for a video server, it just sucks up more memory and degrades performance.

FREE is not really free, when it comes to getting the job done.

By OddTSi on 12/12/2007 1:36:08 PM , Rating: 4
I'm so sick of seeing this story everywhere. In what way is this newsworthy? How is it fair to compare this to some of the other privacy scandals you guys listed in the article?

This wasn't done in an underhanded manner with the user knowing nothing about it. This was a VOLUNTARY program and the user was informed BEFORE signing up what was going on. If someone is willing to give up his own privacy what business is it of your's? Why does it bother you if it doesn't bother him?

I know it's popular on the web to bash MS but this is probably one of the most baseless attempts I've seen so far.

By TomZ on 12/12/2007 1:53:44 PM , Rating: 2
Right on. I'd like to add that Microsoft is effectively compensating participants for their feedback. It's a win for the participants (free software), a win for Microsoft (gets feedback), and ultimately a win all of us who use Microsoft products (feedback improves present and future products). I don't see anything to complain about.

By Alexstarfire on 12/12/2007 5:15:49 PM , Rating: 2
It actually only really shows that people don't care about their privacy.

By amandahugnkiss on 12/12/2007 6:12:37 PM , Rating: 2
What an asinine comment. They're collecting information on usage patterns, learning what people are trying to do and how they are going about it. There is no nefarious ploy to collect personal data.

By fic2 on 12/12/2007 7:18:40 PM , Rating: 1
Says you (and MS). I don't believe they tell you what info they are collecting. And if they do tell I wouldn't believe it would be a complete list just the things MS feels they want you to know.

By TomZ on 12/12/2007 8:05:54 PM , Rating: 2
Conspiracy theories don't add much to a logical discussion. It's quite a cop-out to say that Microsoft is simply lying without putting any thought or reason behind it.

By amandahugnkiss on 12/12/2007 8:31:33 PM , Rating: 2
There seems to be a lot of "I don't know what they're doing, but it's not good cause there's something going out" sort of arguements. I don't use packet sniffers much for testing anymore but there are enough people out there using them (for a wide range of reasons) that MS would be caught pretty quickly were they doing any of the underhanded deeds they get accused of.

By FITCamaro on 12/13/2007 12:05:59 AM , Rating: 2
Do you also question whats actually in your hotdog? Or what a McDonald's burger or Taco Bell's taco "meat" is actually made out of? How about if its actually chicken in your chicken chow mein from the local chinese restaurant?

By Etern205 on 12/12/2007 10:00:37 PM , Rating: 1
If you got nothing to hide then why be so concern as to what files their looking at?
So what if you have your 1TB hard drive filled up with HD porn? So what if you got bought something at a online sex shop? So what if you wrote a online diary telling how much you hate Microsoft?

And seriously when was privacy ever respected? In this day and age privacy is over! Heck maybe if you stop what you are doing and look outside your windows you may even see a camera monitoring you.

Famous Churchill quote
By mpc7488 on 12/12/2007 11:51:51 AM , Rating: 3
Is this the quote?

Braddock: "Mr. Churchill, this is a disgrace. You are quite drunk."
Churchill: "And you, madame, are ugly. As for my condition, it will pass by the morning. You, however, will still be ugly."

RE: Famous Churchill quote
By fic2 on 12/12/2007 12:26:44 PM , Rating: 5
No, I believe it refers to this:

One day, Nancy Astor and Winston Churchill were sitting in a pub having a theoretical discussion about morality. Churchill suggested an idea for Astor to ponder about: If a man were to promise her a huge amount of money- say a million pounds- for the privilege, would she sleep with him? Astor did ponder the question for a while and finally answered, yes, she would, if the money was guaranteed. Churchill then asked her if she would sleep with him for five pounds. Her response was sharp: "Of course not. What do you think I am- a prostitute?" This time Churchill won the battle of wits by answering, "We have already established that fact; we are now simply negotiating about price."

RE: Famous Churchill quote
By fic2 on 12/12/2007 12:27:45 PM , Rating: 5
Although, I like this quote better:

Lady Nancy Astor: Winston, if you were my husband, I'd poison your tea.
Churchill: Nancy, if I were your husband, I'd drink it.

RE: Famous Churchill quote
By masher2 on 12/12/2007 1:25:05 PM , Rating: 2
My favorite Churchill quote has long been:

"Democracy is a government where you can say what you think even if you don't think. "

RE: Famous Churchill quote
By amanojaku on 12/12/2007 2:46:21 PM , Rating: 2
I think the quote was:

"If you were my husband, I’d put arsenic in your coffee every morning."

"Madam, if you were my wife, I'd drink it.”

I'm more inclined to believe this since Nancy Astor was American, and Americans generally prefer coffee to tea.

So short
By Murst on 12/12/2007 11:41:11 AM , Rating: 2
I saw this yesterday, and I signed up in the morning and selected Office 2007 Ultimate.

I tried having my fiancee do the same in the evening, and we noticed that we could no longer select any software for her. Oh well. I guess that's what happened - previously during the day I did not see mention of a cutoff time.

RE: So short
By Murst on 12/12/2007 11:43:38 AM , Rating: 2
Oh, actually, I just looked through my email. I turns out I signed up close to the cutoff time (1:10 PM PST).

RE: So short
By JBird7986 on 12/12/2007 12:01:07 PM , Rating: 2

RE: So short
By daftrok on 12/12/2007 12:35:54 PM , Rating: 2
1:36 and 10 seconds.

linux client
By fic2 on 12/12/2007 1:01:03 PM , Rating: 3
I was going to sign up, but couldn't find their linux client...

RE: linux client
By Bioniccrackmonk on 12/12/2007 1:17:51 PM , Rating: 2
It's in the beyond section at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

By System48 on 12/12/2007 11:24:42 AM , Rating: 2
Did they say specifically what time and is that PST or EST?

RE: Afternoon?
By System48 on 12/12/2007 11:32:13 AM , Rating: 2
NM, found it on another article, it was ended at 2pm.

By danz32 on 12/12/2007 11:36:53 AM , Rating: 2
Am I the only one who isn't overly concerned by having this running on their computer? I signed up way back on 10/31, and I have no problem with them taking whatever random usage data they need. I definetely know (and trust) its nothing over personal

By cyriene on 12/12/2007 12:36:42 PM , Rating: 2
I wasn't concerned either, I just installed it on a second computer that I use for light web surfing and as backup. I signed up yesterday before the deal ended, hopefully I will still get my copy of Vista.

I'm always surprised ...
By VooDooAddict on 12/12/2007 2:59:41 PM , Rating: 2
I'm always surprised by the lack of people on Daily Tech joining Technet Plus.

A yearly Technet subscription costs about as much as a single Vista Ultimate License and you can test out and train yourself on such a wide range of MS tools and OSs.

This was cool deal because it was full ownership of a version after 3 months of monitoring. Wish I would have noticed the deal while it was still up, my brother could have used a version of Ultimate Vista or Office for a new build.

RE: I'm always surprised ...
By Murst on 12/12/2007 4:53:11 PM , Rating: 2
This isn't really an option for those of us who do some of our work at home.

I believe the license is for testing purposes only, not for actual production.

To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson
By borowki on 12/12/2007 6:18:37 PM , Rating: 2
"He who trades privacy for software deserves neither and will lose both."

RE: To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson
By mmntech on 12/12/2007 8:46:01 PM , Rating: 2
And to quote the old adage...
"If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

I wonder what exactly Microsoft does with said information, because it certainly isn't used to improve their products.

The concept behind this isn't exactly new either. There was a point when you could get an entire computer for free, but it was crippled by adware and spied on your every move. As one other poster above noted, you deserve your fate if you get suckered into these scams. I guess it makes me so mad because I remember the golden age of computing when this crap didn't exist, or at least wasn't as blatant as it is now. Besides, if you want a free office suite or OS that badly, why not just download OpenOffice or Linux.

RE: To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson
By TomZ on 12/12/07, Rating: -1
watching anyway?
By nowayout99 on 12/12/2007 2:11:01 PM , Rating: 2
"...nyone who signed up after the cutoff yesterday, would still be monitored, even though they would not be receiving any of the free gifts."

How would we get monitored without downloading any software?

Fork over the dough
By viperpa on 12/12/2007 5:54:46 PM , Rating: 2
You won't get the free software but Microsoft still wants to monitor you? One of many of Microsoft's brilliant ideas. No way would I give up my info without a pricetag attached.

Microsoft has how many billions laying around? They want my info, they can fork over the dough.

You guys are slow!
By Etern205 on 12/12/2007 9:46:06 PM , Rating: 2
This was out for over a month and now you guys know about this?

I think I may have suggested this as a news to DT the day I heard about it but every time when I visit here it was not published until today. The day when M$ decided to ax the free software but still monitor what your doing.

By scrapsma54 on 12/12/2007 11:37:49 PM , Rating: 2
Damn, That means they have to watch porn when you watch it.
What a job.

what morooons...
By aguilpa1 on 12/12/07, Rating: -1
By chick0n on 12/12/07, Rating: -1
By tallcool1 on 12/12/2007 11:45:34 AM , Rating: 3
Not everybody in the USA agree's or disagree's with what your talking about, so don't stereo type the entire country.

By chick0n on 12/12/07, Rating: -1
By majorpain on 12/12/2007 3:03:51 PM , Rating: 1
There are alot of alternatives for high price OS or even warez.
At my work we produce between 50 - 100 oem computers per day, 60% of them go with Vista 15% with XP and the rest without OS or with Linux Kubuntu.
I always used XP Pro at home and work, but i tested Vista not at home but at work, i have the chance all day long to "play" around with Vista, and after the tests, i decided to change both my workstation and playstation at home to Kubuntu. I still play my windows games at home with Kubuntu, and at work my kubuntu machine is still able to make totally unattended network instalations of Vista or XP. It works for me, maybe for some wont. I do use Open Office. Firefox, KMPlayer and Gimp, and im pretty sure none of the software or the OS i use is spying on the things i do or dont do. Warez is not the best choice, atleast for me.
In my opinion, Vista is not a choice at this time, too many issues with hardware and software, (TV cards, mobos...)too much pop-up questions about if i want to do this or that, and if im sure i want to do that or this, and if im sure i am sure about the "sure"... Office 2007 is completely out of the question, tried it for 3 days, quite nice looking, great resources and easy to use, but the price... went back to O.O.

By sweetsauce on 12/12/2007 3:01:21 PM , Rating: 2
Retarted much? This is about a company who provides a software, and this company wants you to VOLUNTEER to have them monitor your use VOLUNTARILY in exchange for you getting their software for FREE. How does this relate to governments secretly monitoring their people?

"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner

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