Are you 18 years of age or older and living in the United States ? Are you the owner of the computer and use either Windows XP or Windows Vista as your main operating system ? Then you might apply to join the Windows Feedback Program which will supply you with a free Microsoft application of your choice if your application gets accepted.
The choice of the free application is limited to one of the following: Windows Vista Ultimate, Office Ultimate 2007, Money Plus Premium, Streets and Trips 2008 or Microsoft Student with Encarta Premium 2008. This does come at a price though. Microsoft wants to monitor your user behavior for the period of three months and asks you to fill out an occasional survey as well.
Cautious users will stop reading here and I can fully understand that they do not wish that their usage data is send to Microsoft. Lets see what Microsoft has to say about the type of data that gets collected:
The Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) collects the following data:
It's hard to say what the Office Customer Experience Improvement Program does, Microsoft explains in greater detail the Additional Data Gathering:
This is a lot of data that is collected and I personally would never ever allow a program to collect that kind of data - and probably more without my knowledge - and send that data to Microsoft who use a unique identifier to keep track of the data.
But here is an idea. Do you have another computer that you do not use that much, a laptop maybe or an older one running Windows XP or Windows Vista ? Why don't you use those for the program and use them occasionally only ? Microsoft is also offering a way to opt out of the program by simply sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word remove in the subject line without consequences.
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.