Fancy a getting Windows Vista Ultimate for nothing? How about Office 2007 Ultimate? Encarta 2008? Well, now US residents can – and without breaking the law. All you have to do is sacrifice any shred of privacy you thought your computer gave you.
is currently running the discretely-named Windows Feedback Program
, a kind of after-release beta-test designed to give the programmers an insight into how to make Windows (and other Microsoft products) better. Like a normal beta, you get copies of the software for free; this time, however, they're full-release products.
The catch? A teeny little software program that runs in the background and sends information to Microsoft during the first three months of use. Although Microsoft is being rather cagey about exactly what
information is sent, it's rather telling that the company has failed to place any particular limits on what the software could
Microsoft's official stance is that it is “looking for information that will help us understand problems you encounter with Windows, how you have configured your computer and Windows, what hardware you are using, and general information about how you are using Windows and Microsoft Office products on your computer.
” It's that last part which gives cause for concern.
I don't know about you, but I don't particularly want Microsoft gathering unlimited data with no particular limits being set. The FAQ for the program
has further information, but still leaves wiggle room by describing the provided list as “some examples” of collected data and not an exhaustive selection.
If you trust in your Uncle Bill, and if you do absolutely nothing interesting and/or embarrassing on your computer, you have until the 31st December to sign up
for the program.
Fancy a free Vista Ultimate DVD, or would you rather Bill keeps his nose out of your collection of (ahem) 'videos'? Sound off in the forums.