Microsoft and data

In my previous post, which you can find here, I explained what data Microsoft collects. In this post we take a look at what data Microsoft does not collect. After that we take a look at what Microsoft uses all that data they collect for.

Data collection, is it all that bad?

No, but that does not make it good.
There is a lot of data that is not actively collected by Microsoft. Next to that, certain types of data are protected by encryption. And there are settings you can change to stop the collecting of data. And there is of course the law.

I changed my browser, does this stop the data collecting?

If you use a different web browser from Microsoft Edge your data is not stored by Microsoft. That is, unless you have opted into certain Microsoft services or features that integrate with third-party browsers.

Here is a, not complete, list of these services:
Microsoft Account, you can sign into your Microsoft account from any browser.
OneDrive, accessible via any browser.
Outlook.com, accessible via any browser.
Office Online, accessible via any browser.
Bing, can be set as the default search engine in any browser.
Microsoft Advertising, ads served on third-party websites viewed via any browser.
Microsoft Teams (Web Version), accessible via any browser.
Skype (Web Version), accessible via any browser.
Microsoft Edge Extensions, certain Microsoft services can be accessed via extensions installed in third-party browsers.
Cortana (Web Integration), accessible via any browser.

As you can understand, if you use these programs or features, Microsoft can, and probably will, collect your data.

Conclusion

Using a third party web browser will stop Microsoft from collecting your data. This is of course true if you also use a different search engine then Bing. Take care, if you use Google as a search engine, then Google will collect your data. I explained that here.

If you do not want Microsoft to collect your data, make sure you do not use Microsoft services that integrate with third-party browsers. This data collection includes account activity, email content, search queries, document interactions, and more.

What data does Microsoft not collect?

Let us take a look at what data is not collected by Microsoft. There is of course a lot more data that is not collected, but these are the things worth mentioning.

Printing information

Microsoft does not store data about what you print to a printer. However, certain printer drivers and software may collect diagnostic information or usage statistics for the purpose of improving performance or troubleshooting issues. This data collection is typically outlined in the privacy policy or terms of use provided by the printer manufacturer, and you may have the option to opt out of such data collection within the printer settings or software preferences. Microsoft generally has no access to the content of your print jobs unless they are sent through Microsoft services or software that explicitly store or process that information, such as Microsoft Office or OneDrive.

Connect you phone to your computer

When you connect your phone to your computer, Microsoft typically does not directly store information about who you called or the contents of your photos. However, depending on how your phone is configured and what software you use to manage its connection to your computer, certain data may be synced or accessed by Microsoft services.

Phone call logs: by default, Windows does not directly access or store call logs from your phone. However, if you use a Microsoft account to sync settings across devices, call history syncing might be enabled if supported by your phone’s operating system and settings. This data would then be stored in accordance with Microsoft’s privacy policies.

Photos: when you connect your phone to your computer, Microsoft may access certain metadata from your photos (such as file names, timestamps, and other technical details) to display them in File Explorer or other applications. However, the actual content of your photos is typically not stored by Microsoft unless you explicitly upload them to Microsoft services like OneDrive.

Banking details

Microsoft does not store your banking details, like bank accounts, account numbers, credit card numbers, or specific transaction amounts. However, certain Microsoft services and products may require payment information for billing purposes, such as purchasing apps or subscriptions from the Microsoft Store, Xbox Live, or Microsoft 365.

When you make purchases through Microsoft services, your payment details are typically processed by third-party payment processors, and Microsoft may store limited information necessary for billing and account management purposes, such as:

Payment method: information about the payment method you used, such as credit card type, expiration date, and billing address.

Transaction history: records of transactions made through Microsoft services, including purchase amounts, dates, and details of products or services purchased.

Billing information: details related to your billing account, such as invoices, payment history, and subscription status.

Conclusion

Files and folders on your computer or laptop are normally not accessible by Microsoft. This is a good thing. When you take pictures with your phone and store them on your computer or print them, there is no problem. The same for payments you do through your computer. This data is not collected or used, and stays with your bank or other parties you share it with.

What about the data that Microsoft does collect?

Data practices by Microsoft are designed to be transparent and respectful of user privacy. Here is a detailed look at whether Microsoft sells, shares, or keeps the data they collect:

Selling data

Microsoft states that they do not sell customer data. Unlike some other tech companies, their business model is not primarily based on advertising revenue, but rather on subscriptions, software sales, and enterprise services.

Sharing data

Microsoft may share data with third-party partners, but this is generally done to provide services or enhance user experience. For example:
Service providers: Microsoft works with service providers who may process data on their behalf for various operational tasks, such as customer support, infrastructure, and cloud services.
Business partners: some data might be shared with business partners for specific functionalities, like integrating third-party services or enhancing product features.
Advertisers: Microsoft does not sell personal data to advertisers, but they may share anonymized data to enable targeted advertising within their own services like Bing and MSN.

Microsoft may share data with its subsidiaries and affiliates to provide consistent and personalized experiences across their ecosystem of products and services. For example:

For legal reasons data may be shared in response to legal processes or to comply with applicable laws and regulations. This includes cooperating with government agencies when required by law.

Keep the data

Microsoft primarily keeps the data they collect for internal use. This involves improving their products and services, enhancing security, and ensuring compliance with legal requirements.

Data is used to develop new features, improve user experience, and maintain the performance of their products. For instance, user feedback and usage data help refine features in Windows, Office, and Azure.

Conclusion

Microsoft is committed to maintain user trust by being transparent about their data practices. They do not sell personal data and only share data with third parties under specific, limited circumstances, often with strong privacy safeguards in place. Most of the data collected is used internally to enhance their products and services while providing users with control over their data through various privacy tools and settings.

This approach aligns with their broader commitment to privacy and data protection, reflecting a careful balance between leveraging data for service improvement and respecting user privacy.

Does Microsoft make money by selling ads?

Yes, Microsoft does make money by selling ads, particularly through its search engine Bing and other online services. Let us take a detailed look at how Microsoft generates revenue from advertising:

Bing ads

Search advertising: Microsoft sells ads that appear in Bing search results. Advertisers bid on keywords, and their ads are displayed when users search for those terms.

Ad marketplace: Microsoft’s advertising platform, Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads), allows businesses to create and manage ad campaigns, similar to Google Ads.

Partner sites: Bing Ads also appear on partner sites through the Bing Network, extending the reach of these advertisements beyond Bing’s search engine.

Microsoft audience network

Display advertising: this network includes native ads displayed on various Microsoft-owned and partner properties, such as MSN, Outlook.com, and Microsoft Edge.

Targeted ads: leveraging user data, such as search history and interests, to deliver personalized and relevant ads.

LinkedIn ads

Sponsored content and InMail: LinkedIn offers advertising solutions, including sponsored posts and direct messaging ads.
Display ads: banner and sidebar ads are shown to LinkedIn users.
Targeted advertising: using professional data to target ads based on job title, industry, skills, and other professional attributes.

XBox advertising

In-Game ads: integrated within Xbox games and on the Xbox dashboard.
Sponsored content: promotions and sponsored content targeted at the gaming community.

MSN and other online services

Content ads: displayed alongside content on MSN, Microsoft News, and other Microsoft-operated media properties.
Video ads: on platforms like Microsoft Stream.

Monetization strategies

Pay-Per-Click: advertisers pay each time a user clicks on their ad. This is a common model for search and display ads.
Cost-Per-Impression: advertisers pay based on the number of times their ad is shown, typically used for display and video ads.
Subscription and premium services: some Microsoft services offer ad-free experiences as part of premium subscriptions (Microsoft 365, Xbox Live).

Conclusion

Microsoft’s primary revenue comes from software sales, cloud services, and enterprise solutions. But, advertising is a significant and growing part of their business model. Through Bing, the Microsoft Audience Network, LinkedIn, and other platforms, Microsoft effectively generates substantial ad revenue. They balance this with strong privacy measures and user controls to maintain trust and transparency.

This brings us to the end of my post on Microsoft and data.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post on Microsoft and data.
I hope you found it enjoyable and insightful.
Stay tuned for more content that is coming soon.

If you like what you read, please consider sharing it with others who might find it helpful.

Disclaimer

All tips and methods mentioned in this blog are tested on Windows 11. Please note that results may vary on other operating systems or versions of Windows. Adapt the instructions accordingly.

Copyright

© 2024 Henny Staas/safecomputer.org. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Henny Staas/safecomputer.org with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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