Microsoft Offering Spyware For Free

The folks at Microsoft want to know what you're doing — they really, really want to know. In fact, they want to know so bad they'll give you free copies of their software if you'll let them spy on you for a while.

Anyone who signs up and completes Microsoft's Windows Feedback Program will get to pick their choice of the premium versions of Windows Vista, Office 2007, MS Money, MS Student with Encarta 2008, or MS Streest and trips 2008. So, what exactly must one do to qualify for this windfall? You have to take regular surveys to satisfy part one, and install Microsoft's special spyware — or "automated feedback program" as they call it — and allow it to track you for three months. In short, what Engadget described surrendering your privacy and your dignity and being "a good little pod person."

The real question, of course, is "How desperate are you to get some no-cost software from Microsoft?" (We'd never say "free software" from Microsoft, because that term has meaning, and the meaning definitely isn't Microsoft.)

Read more.

UPDATE: Microsoft has apparently run out of software to give away, and pulled the offer from it's website. As best we can tell, the offer is still open for those who signed up, they just aren't taking any new applications. Read more.

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Justin Ryan is a Contributing Editor for Linux Journal.