Feeds

Microsoft Windows patent will spy for advertisers

The computer is impersonal again

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

If you thought adverts on the web have become more offensive and more intrusive than ever before, then it might be time to find alternatives to using software from Microsoft.

Microsoft has filed a patent (here) that threatens to breathe life into Bill Gates' and Ray Ozzie's Frankenstein-like Windows Live "vision", unveiled in November 2005, for putting annoying, in-your-face internet adverts inside your most important Windows applications.

The giant has claimed what it calls an "advertising framework" that would suck "context data" from your PC so advertisers can display ads on the client, and to split revenue with the advertiser and the owner of the application supplying the data.

According to the patent, any application such as - oh, say - a word processor or email client - may "serve as both a source of context data and as a display client." Microsoft's advertising framework would also stipulate "acceptable" advertising - so no porn popping up in your Dynamics CRM or ads for SAP - "restrictions on use of alternate display clients" (so no money for you, Linux), and "specifying supporting media" - forget Real Player and QuickTime, the future is Silverlight.

The patent, filed with the US patent and trademark office, would allow for more targeted, relevant and context-sensitive ads, according to Microsoft.

"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," Microsoft's filing said.

Aside from the usual competitive concerns of the dominant supplier of PC operating systems further integrating its applications, this time with the internet to dive online ad revenue, Microsoft's patent is packed with the usual thorny knot of security and privacy concerns. These include spying on, storing and streaming data from personal files stored on a PC plus information on the users' computing activity to advertisers, plus the potential for hackers to attack machines by cracking both the data store and data stream.

Microsoft's envisions a "context manager" that would gather data from "various data sources" with a "profile manager" and "profile database" storing data "over a period of time" for use in "refining context data for advertisement selection."

An "advertising manager" may control the relationship with suppliers and the interface, meaning a "word processor may display a banner ad along the top of a window... while a graphical ad may be displayed in a frame associated with the application. A digital editor for photos or movies may support video-based advertisements."

The advertising manger would also "log ad placement results and may even take steps to verify ad consumption" for enforcement of contractual relationships, of course.

Sun Microsystem’s former chief executive Scott McNealy once lectured us long and hard on losing our online privacy to the internet. Looks like you can kiss farewell to the anonymity of using a PC, too.®

Seven Steps to Software Security

More from The Register

next story
Whoah! How many Google Play apps want to read your texts?
Google's app permissions far too lax – security firm survey
Chrome browser has been DRAINING PC batteries for YEARS
Google is only now fixing ancient, energy-sapping bug
Do YOU work at Microsoft? Um. Are you SURE about that?
Nokia and marketing types first to get the bullet, says report
Microsoft takes on Chromebook with low-cost Windows laptops
Redmond's chief salesman: We're taking 'hard' decisions
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
Big Blue Apple: IBM to sell iPads, iPhones to enterprises
iOS/2 gear loaded with apps for big biz ... uh oh BlackBerry
OpenWRT gets native IPv6 slurping in major refresh
Also faster init and a new packages system
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.