Microsoft Attacks Google Privacy Policy, Touts Own Services

Microsoft Attacks Google Privacy Policy, Touts Own Services

Microsoft’s ad campaign is using concern over Google’s new privacy policies and search features to promote its own products, as the two companies battle for users.

The Redmond, Wash., company unleashed a national, three-day print ad campaign in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today.

In it, Microsoft promotes its email, search and organizational products like Hotmail and Bing over Google’s well-known counterparts, and the company isn’t afraid to point out flaws in its competitors as a reason to consider a switch. The ad specifically calls out Google for making “unpopular changes” to the way it uses personal, user-entered information.

Google claims it’s helping its users by consolidating its privacy policy into one document, and the new “Search Your World” feature filters user information to help predict searches, including posts from growing social network Google+. Google is taking a comprehensive approach, but it’s drawn federal concerns about data collection.

Microsoft is attempting to capitalize on wary Google users who may feel the company’s changes don’t help users, but instead help pad Google’s bottom line. Microsoft’s ad makes this point explicit, saying “Every data point they collect and connect to you increases how valuable you are to an advertiser.”

In a company blog explaining the ad, Microsoft’s Frank X. Shaw from corporate communications says Google’s changes “make it harder, not easier, for users to stay in control of their own information.”

He further pokes at the search giant by saying users are growing wary of “the choices that had been made for them” and looking for alternatives.

The ad touts Microsoft services like the 15-year-old Hotmail, search engine Bing, Office 385 for document sharing and web browser Internet Explorer, highlighting their privacy controls.

Google says its privacy changes, which will roll out by March, aim to bolster consistency across its dozens of products. But by linking features like YouTube and Google+ to search functions, Google is cementing its place as an all-encompassing service.

Though Google search reigns supreme, Microsoft’s Bing use grew to 15.1 percent of U.S. search queries in December, according to Comscore, up from 13.9 last March. But Bing offers search functions similar to the ones Microsoft is warning Google users about, with data displayed from Facebook, used by 800 million worldwide, to help tailor search results.

Microsoft has previously spearheaded clever ploys to compete with Google. Late last year, Microsoft let Android and iPhone users try the Windows Phone 7.5 Mango for free on their current devices in attempts to gain their brand loyalty.

An ad campaign and consequential media buzz are unlikely enough to make loyal Google users change service. With one billion searchers, 350 emails users and 90 million on Google+, the younger corporation is synonymous with Internet navigation, and innovation.

But Microsoft’s name recognition, foothold in computing software, and recent attention to user privacy concerns suggest Microsoft won’t resist taking a jab at its rival, and there may be more battles to come.

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