Join The Windows Feedback Program and grab some free apps
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:
- Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) -
- Office Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP)
- Additional data collection
The Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) collects the following data:
- Configuration, such as how many processors are in your computer, how many network connections you use, which version of Windows is running, and if some features such as Bluetooth wireless technology or high-speed USB connections are turned on.
- Performance and reliability, such as how quickly a program responds when you click a button, how many problems you experience with a program or a device, and how quickly information is sent or received over a network connection.
- Program use, such as the features that you use the most often, how often you use the Help and Support Center, and how many folders you typically create on your desktop.
It's hard to say what the Office Customer Experience Improvement Program does, Microsoft explains in greater detail the Additional Data Gathering:
- Windows settings and usage, such as the number of user accounts on the computer and the view settings for Control Panel (that is, if you use the default Category view or the Classic view to display Control Panel).
- Details about your computer hardware, such as processor type and speed (as well as the number of processors), system memory, video memory, and other hardware configuration information.
- File and folder information, such as the number of files and folders located in common places (for example, in Documents).
- Which programs you open (for example, which application you use to read your e-mail).
- Changes you make to your hardware or software.
- Problems you encounter, such as application crashes.
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 [email protected] with the word remove in the subject line without consequences.