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Privacy a Major Selling Point for Microsoft

You’ve been Scroogled!

You’ve probably heard about how Microsoft is taking a swipe at Google when it launched an all-out “Scroogled” campaign to promote its web-based email service Outlook.com. In case you didn’t notice, “scroogled” is a permutation of the phrase “screwed by Google”. Now that’s a blatant attack by Microsoft on Google’s services.

It’s as if Microsoft has resorted to political tactics in taking down Google.

You’ve been “Scroogled”!

So what does this “Scroogled” campaign want to prove? Microsoft, in a somewhat controversial alarmist approach, goes about telling people that Google “skims” through Gmail users’ emails in order to show and provide relevant ads. Now if you’re as concerned with your privacy as I am, that’s really going to be irksome. Imagine having some bots scan through your email messages whether you’re using your laptop or your business phone.

That can really be bothersome. But is this information really enough to make you or the rest of Gmail users leave Google and opt for Microsoft’s Outlook instead? That’s exactly what Microsoft is hoping for, and it is obviously using privacy as a major selling point for their products and services.

Privacy Polls

The reason why Microsoft seems to be really confident in this privacy-angled bid to topple its arch enemy is because it actually has a solid basis. The company conducted a poll and the results revealed that about 9 out of 10 Americans are against Google’s “e-mail scanning” approach to generate relevant ads. Of course, if you have staggering statistics such as this, it’s only right to use it as the main point for your marketing strategy. And boy did Microsoft bash Google for this!

Google, nevertheless reiterates that the scanning of Gmail users’ emails is automated and not, in any way, done by humans. It further explains that their system just scans for keywords to provide users more useful ads.

Browsing Privacy on IE 10

Apart from using privacy to market Outlook.com, Microsoft also focused on privacy when it designed its latest edition of the Internet Explorer, the IE 10. This latest version of IE that’s bundled with the Windows 8 OS has the Do Not Track (DNT) feature. Actually, DNT is automatically turned on in IE 10. What this means for users is that their browsing behavior can’t be automatically tracked.

As Microsoft puts it, the “Internet Explorer 10 introduces a new privacy feature that can send a Do Not Track request to the websites you visit. You can turn this request on or off to express your preference about tracking at any time.”

It also added that “When the Do Not Track feature in Internet Explorer is turned on, Internet Explorer will send a Do Not Track request to the sites you visit and to the third parties whose content is hosted on those sites. Sites might respect the signal or might continue to engage in activities you might view as tracking even though you have expressed this preference, depending on the sites’ privacy practices.”

Again, for privacy advocates and privacy-concerned users, this can possibly seal the deal for you. If you can browse the web without someone trying to track your whereabouts, this type of selling point can be pretty convincing.

So is this privacy-centric approach by Microsoft effective? It’s probably still early to tell. And with Google’s Chrome 25 armed with a voice recognition feature, you know it’s going to be a tough competition. Then again, if there’s anyone that would emerge victorious in this battle between Google and Microsoft, it’s the users.