The folks at Notebook Review have an entry up about a way you can score a “free” copy of Windows Vista Ultimate Edition or one of five additional packages including Office Ultimate 2007. So what’s the catch? The catch is it’ll cost you some of your privacy for a few months:
Need a free copy of Windows Vista Ultimate? Are you incredibly trusting of big corporations? Well I have the deal for you, with a new program through Microsoft called the Windows Feedback Program. For the small price of privacy and perhaps some dignity, you can let Microsoft watch your every move for 3 months, in return for some software of your choice. Surveys are also required, one at the start, and then another in 2 week intervals, but compared to the bigger issue those are pretty painless. Some might find this to be an excellent deal, with software prices high, and cost of your free time to be almost nothing at all.
Through the following link http://wfp.microsoft.com/ you can sign up for this program, which has the following rules:
- Participation is currently limited to US residents of 18 years and older.
- You are the owner of the computer you use for this program.
- The automated feedback program is offered to Windows Vista and Windows XP customers only.
- The survey feedback program applies to all versions of Windows.
- Microsoft, comScore, and MarketTools employees are not eligible to participate.
You can choose to sign up for just the surveys or just the automated data collection, but to get the free copy of Vista (or any of the other programs offered) you have to agree to both. Vista already has a Windows Feedback Program built into it and when you first start using Vista it asks you if you would like to sign up to provide said feedback. I believe this is the same application that they’re talking about in the offer above and the big question is: ?
Ok, tell me more about the automated feedback program – how does it work?
If you agree to join the program, a small amount of data will be collected using the Windows Feedback Program software. That data will be sent to Microsoft so we can monitor how your computer is working and better understand how you are using Windows and Office. This data is collected every time you use Windows and Office. We use this data to help make future versions of the software better and more useful for you and other users.
What types of information will you collect and why?
We are 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. You can see a list of examples of the data we collect in our FAQ.
How often will Microsoft collect data?
How often you will share data depends on how actively you use your computer and how often your computer is connected to the internet. In general, the data is shared once per day.
The FAQ goes into a fairly general overview of the data collected and it’s broken down into three parts: Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP), Office Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP), and Additional data collection which consists of the following:
The following list describes some examples of additional data collection our software performs:
- 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 type of data collection can provide Microsoft with useful data, such as:
- Identification of top user problems; for example, how often does a computer crash or stop? How often do customers update Windows? How often are problems reported?
- How customers use their computers; for example, how often do customers use their computers? How often do they connect to the Internet? How long do they stay connected?
- How users store files on computers; for example, how much storage space do customers have on their computers? How much storage space is used? Where do customers store their files?
We do not intentionally collect sensitive information, such as the passwords on the user accounts, the contents of any of your personal files, the name or HTTP address of any of the websites you mark as Favorites, or what websites you visit.
It sounds like pretty standard stuff and not much more than would be shared if you ever participated in any of the Windows Improvement programs in the past. If you’re willing to give up that kind of info then you can score a legit copy of Vista Ultimate. Personally I’m pretty sure I’ve participated in two of the three improvement programs in the past so I’ve probably already revealed all my dirty secrets to MS and thusly have nothing to lose and a free copy of Vista Ultimate to gain.