Apple's volunteer press office The New York Times is claiming that Microsoft has changed how it gathers and uses personal information from consumers of its free, web-based products like email, search and instant messaging.
The Times claimed that no-one noticed even if the changes were the same as the controversial ones bought in by Google this year. The new policy allows for targeted advertising and while Microsoft promised not to do so in blog posts and emails informing its customers about the change, it is not in the formal policy.
When Google did the same thing it drew scathing criticism from privacy advocates, sparking inquiries from regulators. Ironically one of those who moaned was Microsoft, which bought full-page newspaper ads telling Google users that Google did not care about their privacy.
Microsoft's Services Agreement, allows it to analyse customer content from one its free products and use it to improve another. It will take information from messages a consumer sends on Windows Live Messenger and using it to improve messaging services on Xbox.
That kind of sharing of information between products would not have been allowed under previous Microsoft policies. Redmond claims that it will not use the personal information and content it collects to sell targeted advertising which Google does.