The first ad in Microsoft's three-part series. (Click for PDF)

Concerned about changes in Google’s search and privacy practices? Microsoft is waiting with open arms.

That’s the message from the Redmond company in an unusual series of full-page newspaper ads, starting today, that encourage people who are unhappy about Google’s latest moves to consider changing to Microsoft’s Bing search engine, Hotmail webmail service, Office 365 online productivity suite and Internet Explorer web browser.

After laying out concerns about Google’s latest policies and practices, the first ad concludes, “If these changes rub you the wrong way, please consider using our portfolio of award-winning products and services.”

The aggressive approach may come as a surprise to newspaper readers, particularly those who think of Microsoft primarily as the company behind the dominant Windows operating system. But the strategy underscores Microsoft position as an underdog, particularly in the search business.

Google first experienced a negative reaction from some users to its “Search Plus Your World” initiative that incorporates results from social networks, focusing heavily on its own Google+, into its search engine. Google separately announced a series of privacy changes last week, saying that it would combine information about users across its various products and services — promising “a simpler, more intuitive Google experience.”

Microsoft responds in its first ad, “Those changes, cloaked in language like ‘transparency,’ ‘simplicity’ and ‘consistency,’ are really about one thing: making it easier for Google to connect the dots between everything you search, send, say or stream while using one of their services.”

The ad continues, “But, the way they’re doing it is making it harder for you to maintain control of your personal information. Why are they so interested in doing this that they would risk this kind of backlash? One logical reason: Every data point they collect and connect to you increases how valuable you are to an advertiser.”

Of course, Microsoft also collects data about users and their online behavior to help target Internet ads, like other major operators of online services. But the newspaper ads suggest that Google will be going too far by bridging data across its various services.

Reads the first Microsoft ad, “To be clear, there’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to improve the quality of an advertising product. But, that effort needs to be balanced with continuing to meet the needs and interests of users. Every business finds its own balance and attracts users who share those priorities. Google’s new changes have upset that balance, with users’priorities being de-prioritized. That’s why people are concerned and looking for alternatives.”

Although Microsoft also generates revenue from ads, its business relies heavily on traditional licensing revenue from software and services.

“At the highest level, Google has one customer, and it is the advertiser. Users are inventory,” said Frank Shaw, Microsoft’s communications chief. “Advertisers are one of our customers. But we also think about consumers, and small business, and enterprises, so that drives us to a different set of decisions.”

Shaw adds in a blog post this morning, “The changes Google announced make it harder, not easier, for people to stay in control of their own information. We take a different approach – we work to keep you safe and secure online, to give you control over your data, and to offer you the choice of saving your information on your hard drive, in the cloud, or on both.”

Google said in its blog post last week that it sees real user value in the changes it’s making.

We can make search better — figuring out what you really mean when you type in Apple, Jaguar or Pink. We can provide more relevant ads too. For example, it’s January, but maybe you’re not a gym person, so fitness ads aren’t that useful to you. We can provide reminders that you’re going to be late for a meeting based on your location, your calendar and an understanding of what the traffic is like that day. Or ensure that our spelling suggestions, even for your friends’ names, are accurate because you’ve typed them before. People still have to do way too much heavy lifting, and we want to do a better job of helping them out.

Microsoft will run its newspaper ads as a three-part series in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and USA Today.

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  • Guest

    That’s all well and good, Todd, but what’s a “newspaper”?

  • Elbowman

    The masters of F.U.D. are hard at work.  Why should we trust M$ with our information any more than Google?

    • Guest

      M$? Seriously? And read the pdf.

      • Guest

        Microsoft is called “M$” because they make money.

        Google, by contrast, is still a startup focussed on growing its business. Money doesn’t really enter into the discussion with them.

        • Charles Miske

          compare google $584 / share to M$ $30 / share – so like google doesn’t make money and is a startup?

          • Guest

            Yes, Charles. Share price doesn’t have anything to do with profits. I could sell you one giant slice of pizza for $1,000 or a thousand tiny slices of pizza for $1. Same pizza, only the former is not profitable.

          • Charles Miske

            thanks for explaining that

          • Kenny Lee

            Your pizza analogy doesn’t explain how Google is a startup.  Google is no longer a startup.

          • Guest

            Then why are they called “Google” and not “Go$gle”?

            We permit startups to make money, Kenny. Not so with established companies.

          • Anonymous

            Google sure as heck is making more of a profit from sustainable business growth than Microsoft is – who is in quite a bit of a decline. Nice try, though.

  • Villains

    lol. Desperate pleas for new customers. No wondering MSFT is laying off is marketing teams today.

  • Guest

    Sounds like a great initiative. People may say bad things about Microsoft because they are a big company but at the end of the day they make great products and look out for the privacy of their users. Google on the other hand only really makes money from advertising and constantly breaks the law and put peoples privacy at risk. Google is just a publically accepted form of spyware.

    • Farkus

      You are really, really, awfully brainwashed, aren’t you?  Microsoft cares about corporations.  They don’t give a tinker’s fart about people.

      • Guest

        Does Microsoft install spyware onto your computer and sell the data it collects to advertisers?

        Google does. Just try to kill “GoogleUpdate.exe” and see how well your Chrome works.

        • Anonymous


        • Fishystory

           Hmm… not sure if trolling or incredibly stupid

  • Anonymous

    oh look, copying the dangerous parts of microsoft’s privacy policy gets my comment reported and blocked. Let’s copy the privacy policy which is not at all customer friendly again: 

  • Bob Builder

    Here is the Microsoft privacy statement if anyone wants to compare.
    Try it, its fun:

    Here’s the
    privacy statement
    you agree to if you sign up for Hotmail and other services.

    One snip:
    “In order to access some Microsoft services, you will be asked to sign
    in with an e-mail address and password, which we refer to as your
    Windows Live ID. By signing in on one Microsoft site or service, you may
    be automatically signed into other Microsoft sites and services that
    use Windows Live ID. For more information, see the Windows Live ID
    privacy supplement.”
    “We use technologies, such as cookies and web beacons (described below),
    to collect information about the pages you view, the links you click
    and other actions you take on our sites and services.

    “We also deliver advertisements (see the Display of Advertising section
    below) and provide Web site analytics tools on non-Microsoft sites and
    services, and we collect information about page views on these third
    party sites as well.

    “When you receive newsletters or promotional e-mail from Microsoft, we
    may use web beacons (described below), customized links or similar
    technologies to determine whether the e-mail has been opened and which
    links you click in order to provide you more focused e-mail
    communications or other information.

    “In order to offer you a more consistent and personalized experience in
    your interactions with Microsoft, information collected through one
    Microsoft service may be combined with information obtained through
    other Microsoft services. We may also supplement the information we
    collect with information obtained from other companies. For example, we
    may use services from other companies that enable us to derive a general
    geographic area
    based on your IP address in order to customize certain
    services to your geographic area.”

    And the part about web beacons:

    “Microsoft Web pages may contain electronic images known as Web beacons –
    sometimes called single-pixel gifs – that may be used to assist in
    delivering cookies on our sites and allow us to count users who have
    visited those pages and to deliver co-branded services. We may include
    Web beacons in promotional e-mail messages or our newsletters in order
    to determine whether messages have been opened and acted upon.

    “Microsoft may also employ Web beacons from third parties in order to
    help us compile aggregated statistics regarding the effectiveness of our
    promotional campaigns or other operations of our sites. We prohibit Web
    beacons on our sites from being used by third parties to collect or
    access your personal information.

    “Finally, we may work with other companies that advertise on Microsoft
    sites to place Web beacons on their sites in order to allow us to
    develop statistics on how often clicking on an advertisement on a
    Microsoft site results in a purchase or other action on the advertiser’s
    site.”] –

    Next, MS will try to convince us that War is peace, Freedom is slavery, Ignorance is strength …
    or if youre a bit younger: these are not the droids youre looking for.

    • Anonymous

      yep, you should be quite concerned as to what this means – there’s a lot to be worried about.

  • Anonymous

    Newspapers? Really?

    Well, it is useful for google that they have MS reminding GOOG users of how awful alternatives are before they decide whether they leave or not.

    • Rob Carrol

      Really ?? Google docs vs Office 365 ?

      • Anonymous

        My first thought was actually hotmail vs gmail.

        But yeah, really. Office 365 completely shows up how MS is utterly clueless about so many things. They see Office 365 as  a way to retain monopoly of desktop office. Google docs is much better at what it is supposed to do.  I mean, a cloud service that requires you to install office 2007, seriously?

  • Guest

    But since Hotmai’ls LiveID appeared it had been using the same integrated policy that google has now and is also more intrusive because the Windows Desktop search integration (but at that time they only had Microsoft Windows Search and Hotmail and a few club-like services as MSDN) so what’s the difference with google’s policy now? is google using tracking web beacon as facebook now?

    • Guest

      At least Google post the privacy issues publicly and in a easy to understand form instead of a cryptic fast EULA that mo0st people don’t care to read.

  • Guest

    Let the G-Fanboys troll on the comments page! :-)

  • Founder, Leap2

    Check out the startup Leap2, launched this week, that’s combined search directly with browsing:

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