back to article Microsoft stops ID-ing phones in jab at Google

Microsoft will stop identifying specific mobile devices that use its location-tracking services, a change that differentiates its Windows Phone 7 from Google's competing Android operating system. Under a new policy, outlined in a letter (PDF) sent to members of Congress on Monday, Microsoft has already stopped storing and using …


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  1. Pooka
    Thumb Up

    Is it just me....

    Or is this actually a very smart move on Microsoft's part....

    A lot of people out there almost seem to crave absolute privacy, and this is a big differentiator for the various OSs. If I was moving from my previous "2 tin cans and a lot of string" phone today I would've seriously looked into a MSphone simply because of this. But I'm not - I've been using a Desire HD since I upgraded from my Magic, and I love the Android system...

    Is it enough to make me switch from my Android? No.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Oh look, a mountain!

    It used to be a molehill, but someone has been making a mountain out of it.

    Seriously, it's not like the phone doesn't say "Hey, we want to send stuff to Google/Apple. Do you want to allow this?"

    1. Chris Miller

      Understanding fail

      You do realise that 99% of users treat any such prompt as one more annoying box to tick before they can get on with whatever they were doing? (I'm not saying this is what *should* happen, merely that this is what *does* happen.) And that the explanation of what ticking the box actually implies is buried somewhere on page 23 of the 9,000 word legal document that you 'agreed' to when you broke the seal on the box in which your device was packed?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You're both mistaken

        @Chris Miller: No, actually I see that prompt every time I update Ultimate Droid on my phone (about once a month). It's very clear what it is for. Google can't be held responsible for the fact that people are too lazy to read three lines and uncheck a box if they don't want their location shared with Google.

        @Tom Sparrow: You're mistaken. You can still use location services if you choose not to allow Google to collect the data. Unchecking the box to allow Google to collect anonymous data doesn't disable either GPS or WiFi location services on the phone. I speak from experience.

    2. Tom Sparrow

      molehill maybe

      but I don't want molehills one my lawn (though a mountain in my back garden would be cool).

      They may give you the choice, but if you don't want your data sent out, you have no location functionality. Which is not much of a choice in my book.

      GPS requires no data to be sent anywhere, cell tower and wifi based location tracking (and associated AGPS features) require a little data to be swapped ("I can see this base station" - "OK, that lives here...").

      None of this requires anyone to know who's asking. Leave my phone ID out of it please. If I want you to know where I am, I'll log in and tell you.

  3. Gannon (J.) Dick

    Said it. Didn't make any sense then either.

    "The company (Google) has said it anonymizes the location data it collects."

    So Google can stop collecting data, because I will assure them, in writing, that wherever I am, I am. And the people who buy this stuff from Google can continue to pay for data which is not any less useful than Google could have been just making up all along.

  4. dssf

    I don't believe ms will truly discard or not collect those IDs

    If someone hacked or messed around with phones, and if the carriers needed ms' help, those numbers will somehow magically appear as needed.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge


      Really? How does that work then?

      We are talking about historical location tracking data here, remember? Do tell how you suddenly "unanonymise" a load of this that lacks any identification..........

      If all that's of interest is current state / location, the carriers can do this without MS's help by just asking their network which cell(s) the IMEI is talking to. As they do now.

  5. Brennan Young
    Gates Halo

    Very slick piece of PR

    Microsoft needs a PR hit, when it has had so many misses lately. I expecially like the wording of

    "a database of sensitive information that can enable a party to surreptitiously 'track' a user,”"

    - exactly! Apple and Google squirm and wriggle and say "we don't collect this information" but they don't mention that they do do stuff which allows others - an unspecified party, as Microsoft has it - to do exactly that.

    If this can put pressure on Apple and Google to tighten up their ship, it will be a good result for everyone.

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