Microsoft Versus
Dissecting Microsoft | Directory

Microsoft & Privacy

Microsoft's conduct has so far shown a disregard for customer privacy.

Software Reporting User Information To Microsoft

------------------------------------ Newsgroups: comp.risks From: [email protected] Date: Wed, 17 May 95 13:44:40 EDT

Microsoft officials confirm that beta versions of Windows 95 include a small viral routine called Registration Wizard. It interrogates every system on a network gathering intelligence on what software is being run on which machine. It then creates a complete listing of both Microsoft's and competitors' products by machine, which it reports to Microsoft when customers sign up for Microsoft's Network Services, due for launch later this year.

"In Short" column, page 88, _Information Week_ magazine, May 22, 1995

The implications of this action, and the attitude of Microsoft to plan such action, beggars the imagination.


An update on this. A friend of mine got hold of a copy of the beta test CD of Win95, and set up a packet sniffer between his serial port and the modem. When you try out the free demo time on The Microsoft Network, it transmits your entire directory structure in background.

This means that they have a list of every directory (and, potentially every file) on your machine. It would not be difficult to have something like a FileRequest from your system to theirs, without you knowing about it. This way they could get ahold of any juicy routines you've written yourself and claim them as their own if you don't have them copyrighted. ------------------------------------

A group in Germany has analyzed the information sent by Microsoft's Windows Update service to Microsoft's servers. It appears to be sending information about all software installed on the system, not just the minimum required to analyze and perform an update procedure.

Richard M. Smith writes:

Each time a new DVD movie is played on a computer, the [Windows Media Player v8] software contacts a Microsoft Web server to get title and chapter information for the DVD. When this contact is made, the Microsoft Web server is given an electronic fingerprint which identifies the DVD movie being watched and a cookie which uniquely identifies a particular WMP player. With these two pieces of information Microsoft can track what DVD movies are being watched on a particular computer... As of Feb. 14, 2002, the Microsoft privacy policy for WMP version 8 does not disclose [this].
Copyright © 2004-2007 Matthew Schwartz