My boss sent me this link from The Register today: Microsoft Windows Patent Will Spy for Advertisers; I believe his accompanying message was something like, "This is absurd."
Most of what I tend to read on The Register is, in fact, absurd, and that's what I like about the site. But this one is so strange, I almost don't know quite what to say.
It seems that the author, Gavin Clarke, is bent out of shape because Microsoft has applied for a U.S. patent for an advertising platform that would allow it to add contextual, personalized advertisements to Windows Live applications.
It's as if the author has never heard of Google. You know, Google? The super-successful darling of the tech media that is working feverishly to take over the world while we all whistle? Yes, that Google. Or perhaps he's heard of Google but missed the memo on Google Apps, which has Microsoft (among others) running scared and trying to figure out its place in the software-as-a-service market.
Stranger still, most of the comments on the piece seem to come from those equally outraged by the possibility that their "privacy" will be invaded by this practice.
Google Apps has ads. Windows Live may have ads. What is the question?
I'm really not sure. But which statement should be more frightening?
Microsoft (from its patent application):
Targeted advertisements is highly valued by advertisers because it allows placement of advertisements that are theoretically of greater interest to a particular audience member than blanket advertising.
We are very early in the total information we have within Google. The algorithms will get better and we will get better at personalization. The goal is to enable Google users to be able to ask the question such as 'What shall I do tomorrow?' and 'What job shall I take?'