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Thread: 20+ Vista Services and Features Harvest User Data

  1. #1
    Nobody expects the Senior Member Lemur's Avatar
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    Default 20+ Vista Services and Features Harvest User Data

    Vista just sounds worse every day.

    Forget about the WGA! 20+ Windows Vista Features and Services Harvest User Data for Microsoft - From your machine!

    By: Marius Oiaga, Technology News Editor

    Are you using Windows Vista? Then you might as well know that the licensed operating system installed on your machine is harvesting a healthy volume of information for Microsoft. In this context, a program such as the Windows Genuine Advantage is the last of your concerns. In fact, in excess of 20 Windows Vista features and services are hard at work collecting and transmitting your personal data to the Redmond company.

    Microsoft makes no secret about the fact that Windows Vista is gathering information. End users have little to say, and no real choice in the matter. The company does provide both a Windows Vista Privacy Statement and references within the End User License Agreement for the operating system. Combined, the resources paint the big picture over the extent of Microsoft's end user data harvest via Vista.

    Reading Between the EULA Lines

    Together with Windows Vista, Microsoft also provides a set of Internet-based services, for which it has reserved full control, including alteration and cancellation at any given time. The Internet-based services in Vista "coincidentally" connect to Microsoft and to "service provider
    computer systems." Depending on the specific service, users may or may not receive a separate notification of the fact that their data is being collected and shared. The only way to prevent this is to know the specific services and features involved and to either switch them off or not use them.

    The alternative? Well, it's written in the Vista license agreement. "By using these features, you consent to the transmission of this information. Microsoft does not use the information to identify or contact you."

    The Redmond company emphasized numerous times the fact that all information collected is not used to identify or contact users. But could it? Oh yes! All you have to know is that Microsoft could come knocking on your door as soon as you boot Windows Vista for the first time if you consider the system’s computer information harvested. Microsoft will get your "Internet protocol address, the type of operating system, browser and name and version of the software you are using, and the language code of the device where you installed the software." But all they really need is your IP address.

    What's Covered in the Vista License?

    Windows Update, Web Content, Digital Certificates, Auto Root Update, Windows Media Digital Rights Management, Windows Media Player, Malicious Software Removal/Clean On Upgrade, Network Connectivity Status Icon, Windows Time Service, and the IPv6 Network Address Translation (NAT) Traversal service (Teredo) are the features and services that collect and deliver data to Microsoft from Windows Vista. By using any of these items, you agree to share your information with the Redmond Company. Microsoft says that users have the possibility to disable or not use the features and services altogether. But at the same time Windows update is crucial to the security of Windows Vista, so turning it off is not really an option, is it?

    Windows Vista will contact Microsoft to get the right hardware drivers, to provide web-based "clip art, templates, training, assistance and Appshelp," to access digital software certificates designed "confirm
    the identity of Internet users sending X.509 standard encrypted information" and to refresh the catalog with trusted certificate authorities. Of course that the Windows Vista Digital Rights Management could not miss from a list of services that contact Microsoft on a regular basis. If you want access to protected content, you will also have to let the Windows Media Digital Rights Management talk home. Windows Media Player in Vista for example, will look for codecs, new versions and local online music services.

    The Malicious Software Removal tool will report straight to Microsoft with both the findings of your computer scan, but also any potential errors. Also, in an effort to enable the transition to IPv6 from IPv4, "by default standard Internet Protocol information will be sent to the Teredo service at
    Microsoft at regular intervals."

    Had Enough? I Didn't Think So!

    Microsoft has an additional collection of 47 Windows Vista features and services that collect user data. However, not all phone home and report to Microsoft. Although the data collection process is generalized across the list, user information is also processed and kept on the local machine, leaving just approximately 50% of the items to both harvest data and contact Microsoft. Still, Microsoft underlined the fact that the list provided under the Windows Vista Privacy Statement is by no means exhaustive, nor does it apply to all the company's websites, services and products.

    Activation, Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP), Device Manager, Driver Protection, Dynamic Update, Event Viewer, File Association Web Service, Games Folder, Error Reporting for Handwriting Recognition, Input Method Editor (IME), Installation Improvement Program, Internet Printing, Internet Protocol version 6 Network Address Translation Traversal, Network Awareness (somewhat), Parental Controls, Peer Name Resolution Service, Plug and Play, Plug and Play Extensions, Program Compatibility Assistant, Program Properties—Compatibility Tab, Program Compatibility Wizard, Properties, Registration, Rights Management Services (RMS) Client, Update Root Certificates, Windows Control Panel, Windows Help, Windows Mail (only with Windows Live Mail, Hotmail, or MSN Mail) and Windows Problem Reporting are the main features and services in Windows Vista that collect and transmit user data to Microsoft.

    This extensive enumeration is not a complete illustration of all the sources in Windows Vista that Microsoft uses to gather end user data. However, it is more than sufficient to raise serious issues regarding user privacy. The Redmond company has adopted a very transparent position when it comes to the information being collected from its users. But privacy, much in the same manner as virtualization, is not mature enough and not sufficiently enforced through legislation. Microsoft itself is one of the principal contributors to the creation of a universal user privacy model.

    The activation process will give the company product key information together with a "hardware hash, which is a non-unique number generated from the computer's hardware configuration" but no personal information. The Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) is optional, and designed to improve software quality. Via the Device Manager, Microsoft has access to all the information related to your system configuration in order to provide the adequate drivers. Similarly, Dynamic Update offers your computer's hardware info to Microsoft for compatible drivers.

    Event Viewer data is collected every time the users access the Event Log Online Help link. By using the File Association Web Service, Microsoft will receive a list with the file name extensions. Metadata related to the games that you have installed in Vista also finds its way to Microsoft. The Error Reporting for Handwriting Recognition will only report to Microsoft if the user expressly desires it to. Through IME Word Registration, Microsoft will receive Word registration reports. Users have to choose to participate in the Installation Improvement Program before any data is sent over at Microsof.

    Ever used a print server hosted by Microsoft? Then the company collected your data through Internet Printing. Network Awareness is in a league of its own. It does not premeditatedly store of send directly information to Microsoft, but it makes data available to other services involving network connectivity, and that do access the Redmond company. Via Parental Controls, not only you but also Microsoft will monitor all the visited URLs of your offspring.

    Hashes of your Peer Name tied to your IP address are published and periodically refreshed on a Microsoft server, courtesy of the Peer Name Resolution Service. Every time you install a Plug and Play device, you tell Microsoft about it in order to get the necessary device drivers. The same is the case for PnP-X enabled device, only that Windows Update is more actively involved in this case.

    The Program Compatibility Assistant is designed to work together with the Microsoft Error Reporting Service, to highlight to Microsoft potential incompatibility errors. For every example of compatibility settings via the Compatibility tab, Microsoft receives an error report. The Program Compatibility Wizard deals with similar issues related to application incompatibility. File properties are sent to Microsoft only with the item that they are associated with.

    You can also volunteer your name, email address, country and even address to Microsoft through the registration process. A service such as the Rights Management Services (RMS) Client can only function in conjunction with your email address.

    All the queries entered into the Search box included in the Windows Vista Control Panel will be sent to Microsoft with your consent. The Help Experience Improvement Program also collects and sends information to Microsoft. As does Windows Mail when the users access Windows Live Mail, Hotmail, or MSN Mail. And the Windows Problem Reporting is a service with a self explanatory name.

    But is this all? Not even by a long shot. Windows Genuine Advantage, Windows Defender, Support Services, Windows Media Center and Internet Explorer 7 all collect and transmit user data to Microsoft. Don't want them to? Then simply turn them off, or use alternative programs when possible or stop using some services altogether. Otherwise, when your consent is demanded, you can opt for NO.

    What Happens to My Data?

    Only God and Microsoft know the answer to that. And I have a feeling that God is going right now "Hey, don't get me involved in this! I have enough trouble as it is trying to find out the release date for Windows Vista Service Pack 1 and Windows Seven!"

    Generally speaking, Microsoft is indeed transparent – up to a point – about how it will handle the data collected from your Vista machine. "The personal information we collect from you will be used by Microsoft and its controlled subsidiaries and affiliates to provide the service(s) or carry out the transaction(s) you have requested or authorized, and may also be used to request additional information on feedback that you provide about the product or service that you are using; to provide important notifications regarding the software; to improve the product or service, for example bug and survey form inquiries; or to provide you with advance notice of events or to tell you about new product releases," reads a fragment of the Windows Vista Privacy Statement.

    But could Microsoft turn the data it has collected against you? Of course, what did you think? "Microsoft may disclose personal information about you if required to do so by law or in the good faith belief that such action is necessary to: (a) comply with the law or legal process served on Microsoft; (b) protect and defend the rights of Microsoft (including enforcement of our agreements); or (c) act in urgent circumstances to protect the personal safety of Microsoft employees, users of Microsoft software or services, or members of the public," reveals another excerpt.

    And you thought that it was just you... and your Windows Vista. Looks like a love triangle to me... with Microsoft in the mix.
    "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them ... well, I have others." — Groucho Marx

  2. #2
    Member Member Oleander Ardens's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20+ Vista Services and Features Harvest User Data

    A beautiful new OS, isn't it ?
    "Silent enim leges inter arma - For among arms, the laws fall mute"
    Cicero, Pro Milone

  3. #3
    Cynic Senior Member sapi's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20+ Vista Services and Features Harvest User Data

    Ah, well.

    Terrorists will just have to stick to linux, then, won't they?
    From wise men, O Lord, protect us -anon
    The death of one man is a tragedy; the death of millions, a statistic -Stalin
    We can categorically state that we have not released man-eating badgers into the area -UK military spokesman Major Mike Shearer

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    warning- plot loss in progress Senior Member barocca's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20+ Vista Services and Features Harvest User Data

    now how about some fair and unbiased reporting,
    lets list vista's benefits...
    ...um...
    ..
    .ahhhh...
    hmm.....
    *cough*...ahem...
    ..
    ..
    ummmmmmm...............

    ooops is that the time!!!
    gotta go....
    The winds that blows -
    ask them, which leaf on the tree
    will be next to go.

  5. #5

    Post Re: 20+ Vista Services and Features Harvest User Data

    I don't really see what the problem is - if you haven't got anything to hide what's wrong with them thieving your PCs information and storing it?
    Last edited by Omanes Alexandrapolites; 07-01-2007 at 10:20.
    Dawn is nature's way of telling you to go back to bed

  6. #6
    Cynic Senior Member sapi's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20+ Vista Services and Features Harvest User Data

    Quote Originally Posted by Omanes Alexandrapolites
    I don't really see what the problem is - if you haven't got anything to hide what's wrong with them thieving your PCs information and storing it?
    Privacy?
    From wise men, O Lord, protect us -anon
    The death of one man is a tragedy; the death of millions, a statistic -Stalin
    We can categorically state that we have not released man-eating badgers into the area -UK military spokesman Major Mike Shearer

  7. #7
    Research Shinobi Senior Member Tamur's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20+ Vista Services and Features Harvest User Data

    Agreed Omanes. I see nothing wrong with the richest man in the world knowing more about me -- it just shows that he cares enough to really try to expand our relationship.

    Gives you that warm, cosy feeling doesn't it?
    "Die Wahrheit ruht in Gott / Uns bleibt das Forschen." Johann von Müller

  8. #8

    Post Re: 20+ Vista Services and Features Harvest User Data

    Quote Originally Posted by sapi
    Privacy?
    I do understand what you are saying, but giving away your IP Adress to a trustworthy source, such as Microsoft, is nothing to show concern about. Microsoft is a cooperation that is highly unlikely to sell the information gathered onwards, like certain groups may wish to do. They probably only need it for research.
    Last edited by Omanes Alexandrapolites; 07-03-2007 at 21:21.
    Dawn is nature's way of telling you to go back to bed

  9. #9
    Iron Fist Senior Member Husar's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20+ Vista Services and Features Harvest User Data

    Doesn't XP have that already?


    "Topic is tired and needs a nap." - Tosa Inu

  10. #10
    Cynic Senior Member sapi's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20+ Vista Services and Features Harvest User Data

    Quote Originally Posted by Omanes Alexandrapolites
    I do understand what you are saying, but giving away your IP Adress to a trustworthy source, such as Microsoft, is nothing to show concern about. Microsoft is a cooperation that is highly unlikely to sell the information gathered onwards, like certain groups may wish to do.
    I'm really not concerned about the possibility of the data being sold, but I question why they need it at all...
    From wise men, O Lord, protect us -anon
    The death of one man is a tragedy; the death of millions, a statistic -Stalin
    We can categorically state that we have not released man-eating badgers into the area -UK military spokesman Major Mike Shearer

  11. #11
    Lesbian Rebel Member Mikeus Caesar's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20+ Vista Services and Features Harvest User Data

    Quote Originally Posted by Husar
    Doesn't XP have that already?
    Yes, but not on such an epic scale.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ranika
    I'm being assailed by a mental midget of ironically epic proportions. Quick as frozen molasses, this one. Sharp as a melted marble. It's disturbing. I've had conversations with a braying mule with more coherence.


  12. #12
    Ja mata, TosaInu Forum Administrator edyzmedieval's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20+ Vista Services and Features Harvest User Data

    Vista will surely be uncompatible with me.
    Ja mata, TosaInu. You will forever be remembered.

    Proud

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  13. #13
    Iron Fist Senior Member Husar's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20+ Vista Services and Features Harvest User Data

    Quote Originally Posted by currywurry
    Yes, but not on such an epic scale.
    That's called improvement.


    "Topic is tired and needs a nap." - Tosa Inu

  14. #14
    The very model of a modern Moderator Xiahou's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20+ Vista Services and Features Harvest User Data

    Everyone everywhere is trying to trick us into giving up personal info. I don't like it, but it's nothing new. Anymore, computer usage is little more than a battle to fend off adware, spyware, and other crapware that people try to sneak by you or shovel onto your computer.

    What I really don't like is that Vista comes with all this garbage pre-installed and sucking up CPU time, memory, and network bandwidth- while doing exactly nothing that you'd want.
    Last edited by Xiahou; 07-03-2007 at 01:08.
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    Master Procrastinator Member TevashSzat's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20+ Vista Services and Features Harvest User Data

    Xiahou said exactly what I was thinking. The odds are that the stuff that Vista is running does nothing more than harvest data for research or for testing the effectiveness of some implementations, but I what I hate is having all of these random stuff slowing down my comp and making my connection slower
    "I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me." - Issac Newton

  16. #16
    Member Member Yun Dog's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20+ Vista Services and Features Harvest User Data

    you cant fight the inevitable Mr Anderson
    Quote Originally Posted by pevergreen View Post
    its pevergeren.

  17. #17
    Ja mata, TosaInu Forum Administrator edyzmedieval's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20+ Vista Services and Features Harvest User Data

    Actually, the guys are getting closer and closer to limiting our limited privacy... Next thing theyll want to get pics of us too, is possibly naked and in the position of Leonardo Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man.
    Ja mata, TosaInu. You will forever be remembered.

    Proud

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  18. #18
    Iron Fist Senior Member Husar's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20+ Vista Services and Features Harvest User Data

    Didn't google plan to use headset microphones to find out what music people like and show them "appropriate" advertisement? Oh and the user's PC would calculate all the necessary data before sending it to google, so if you're concerned about performance...


    "Topic is tired and needs a nap." - Tosa Inu

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    Honorary Argentinian Senior Member Gyroball Champion, Karts Champion Caius's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20+ Vista Services and Features Harvest User Data

    Ahh, so


    BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!

    YOUR COMPUTER HAS BECOME A BIG BROTHER CONTESTANT!

    Yes, you had seen it!Only with Windows Vista!




    Names, secret names
    But never in my favour
    But when all is said and done
    It's you I love

  20. #20
    warning- plot loss in progress Senior Member barocca's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20+ Vista Services and Features Harvest User Data

    one word
    Ubuntu
    B.
    The winds that blows -
    ask them, which leaf on the tree
    will be next to go.

  21. #21
    Cynic Senior Member sapi's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20+ Vista Services and Features Harvest User Data

    Quote Originally Posted by barocca
    one word
    Ubuntu
    B.
    No decent games on ubuntu
    From wise men, O Lord, protect us -anon
    The death of one man is a tragedy; the death of millions, a statistic -Stalin
    We can categorically state that we have not released man-eating badgers into the area -UK military spokesman Major Mike Shearer

  22. #22
    warning- plot loss in progress Senior Member barocca's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20+ Vista Services and Features Harvest User Data

    is there a winx emulator that runs on linux?
    The winds that blows -
    ask them, which leaf on the tree
    will be next to go.

  23. #23
    Member Member Oleander Ardens's Avatar
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    Cool Re: 20+ Vista Services and Features Harvest User Data

    Using Ubuntu right now

    BTW this might be interesting, Barocca

    No decent games on ubuntu
    Wesnoth

    OA
    Last edited by Oleander Ardens; 07-04-2007 at 11:52.
    "Silent enim leges inter arma - For among arms, the laws fall mute"
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  24. #24
    Cynic Senior Member sapi's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20+ Vista Services and Features Harvest User Data

    Quote Originally Posted by barocca
    is there a winx emulator that runs on linux?
    Wine?
    From wise men, O Lord, protect us -anon
    The death of one man is a tragedy; the death of millions, a statistic -Stalin
    We can categorically state that we have not released man-eating badgers into the area -UK military spokesman Major Mike Shearer

  25. #25
    warning- plot loss in progress Senior Member barocca's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20+ Vista Services and Features Harvest User Data

    not sure what wine is,
    but i recall there used to be a windows emulator - it allowed anything written for windows to run on a linux box

    VMWare is intersting, but it requirea that the user Have a physical copy of windows to run the virtual machine
    ((everything i do has to be 100% legal))
    meaning i cannot copy your copy, it has to be my own copy

    i want to escape the clutches of "the man"
    The winds that blows -
    ask them, which leaf on the tree
    will be next to go.

  26. #26
    Cynic Senior Member sapi's Avatar
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    Default Re: 20+ Vista Services and Features Harvest User Data

    Sorry; I should have explained myself more - wine is the windows emulator for linux.
    From wise men, O Lord, protect us -anon
    The death of one man is a tragedy; the death of millions, a statistic -Stalin
    We can categorically state that we have not released man-eating badgers into the area -UK military spokesman Major Mike Shearer

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