Microsoft’s Scroogled campaign is back, now attacking the Google Play Store over privacy concerns [VIDEOS]


It was only a few hours ago we told you guys about Microsoft leading the attack on Android after filing a complaint with the European Commission over concerns that Google could be using Android to strong-arm manufacturers into only using Google services. As many of you already figured out, it was a weak argument (Android is currently in use by many manufacturers completely devoid of Google’s apps and services).

But don’t think that’s the last we’ve heard from Microsoft. You might remember their ongoing “Scroogled” campaign, a series of ads Microsoft uses to scare consumers away from all things Google, largely over privacy concerns (Gmail sniffing). Well, Scroogled is back once again, this time with a vengeance.

Now Microsoft is targeting the Google Play Store and its policy of sharing your name, email, and general neighborhood location with developers from around the world. In the videos, Microsoft says, “If you can’t trust their app store, maybe you can’t trust them for anything.” Quickly after the punchline, they advertise Bing search and Windows Phone as alternatives to Google’s services — 2 key areas Microsoft has been going toe-to-toe with Google (and losing) from the beginning. Here’s the 2nd ad spot:

Google’s response? They sent the following short, but sweet statement to TechCrunch:

“Google Wallet shares the information needed to process transactions and maintain accounts, and this is clearly stated in the Google Wallet Privacy Notice.”

Are these low down dirty tactics by Microsoft? Sure looks like it. Of course, this isn’t the first campaign we’ve seen from Microsoft where they aren’t pulling any punches. You may remember Microsoft’s #DroidRage social campaign attacking Google’s Android over malware concerns. Of course, this was like the pot calling the kettle black and quickly backfired into #WindowsRage. What do you guys think about the ads? Sure there’s some truth to the ads, but is this nothing more than a sign that Google has Microsoft against the ropes? Are the Google Play Store’s privacy concerns really as big a deal as Microsoft makes it out to be?

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. Companies only use attack ads when they don’t have a solid product and they are seriously worried about the competition. All Microsoft does here is make themselves seem weak. By producing ads like these, they essentially have admitted defeat.

    No consumer watches an ad like this and immediately thinks that Microsoft has a better product. All they think about is how Microsoft had to play dirty to get some attention.

    1. I wish you were right. Us tech savvy folks see right through it but your average Harry Homeowner falls for this stuff all the time.

        1. L. User

    2. I don’t think MS has a better product. I love Google products such as Android and Gmail. However, I appreciate that MS raises these privacy concerns.

      1. These aren’t concerns so much as Devs using the info to better serve their customers and be able to help in critical situations. What’s the point to using an app if you can’t get help when there is a problem.

        1. This isn’t a matter of helping, this is sharing the information to the developers. When someone wants help they use a forum or email, the user has to ask for help first. When they ask for help, the developer has a way to contact that person. It shouldn’t be the other way around where the developer constantly asks all users if they experience problems.

          1. @ChaosKiller:disqus Exactly

            @Jamal_Adam:disqus If someone has questions or needs support for my app, they email me. I respond to anyone to email me with questions related to my app. I have to use of the buyers full name and email before that occurs, unless I want to be a shithead and start spamming people.

          2. my friend’s mom makes $71/hour on the internet. She has been fired from work for 8 months but last month her pay was $17649 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read more on  Jive8.c­om

          3. My app used to be only English. Then, I saw that a ton of Spanish people were downloading it, and I added a Spanish translation.

    3. That’s solo true. It worked in the 90s for Microsoft to bully, but the times they are a-changing.

    4. it worked for Samsung =)

    5. +

      Google is working hard on its services, products and brand.
      Microsoft and Apple(Oracle) are working hard on anti-Google and anti-Android FUD.
      Microsoft can’t get: this FUD doesn’t generate demand for MSFT-Nokia products.

      1. Google is working hard to undermine Microsoft when it comes to Windows 8 and Windows Phone. They made sure calendar and contact sync no longer works and they refuse to create a youtube app. Google is working hard on its services, product and brand? Only when they feel like it.

  2. And you don’t have to leave a whole slew of info with Microsoft when you make a purchase with them??? Oh and Bing sucks.

    1. No, not as much as on Google (I develop for Apple, Google, and Windows).

      1. I was not just talking about the store. When I upgraded windows I had to give a lot of info,

        1. You didn’t have to.

  3. I really think Microsoft should get fined, because their is a difference between poking fun and THIS. This is blatantly trying to promote their products by trying to show others as the villain

    1. Or, in layman’s terms, slander.

  4. microsoft google + anyone……..but we need big numbers

  5. That’s a lot of money wasted complaining about Google when they should be using it to improve their products. As they say, when you are successful there are bound to be haters lol

    1. How much MORE money should MICROSOFT spend on TURD POLISHING?

      Apparently they finally figured out their money would best be spent on slinging the stuff instead……..

  6. my SECURE internet explorer using school pc’s get the worst viruses and malware. The other day, the same scam came up 3 times. were it locks the pc, telling you to pay because you did something illegal which no one did.

  7. In a world of Facebook, isn’t it time we start asking how much the average consumer cares about privacy? It would be one thing if they were examples of real world implications of Google’s data collection, but to date all I see are Microsoft’s skits. I guess I’m preaching to the choir here.

    1. Yes, I don’t think people are that concerned about the data that Google is collecting. However, this is different because they’re passing on the data to the developers.

  8. At first I agree with all other comments and think it’s a desperate move by MS, but there is truth to their accusations. Google does indeed store and sell more personal info than Apple and Microsoft. I’m an app developer and concerned about this specific topic. I also happen to be concerned about my privacy in regards to all matters.

    1. but that is what the government and eu is there for. They have fined google for bad things they have done in the past. I feel a private organisation, a competitor, like Microsoft should not get involved, because it shows they want to gain market share and gain the profit Google looses.

      1. Are you serious? The government LOVES data sharing (well, at least the US govt). Whether you think their tactics are nasty or not, Microsoft senses that more people are getting concerned about privacy and they are capitalizing on it. Same reason they have “Do Not Track” enabled by default on the new IE. It’s a business strategy just the same way Google is promoting their Chromebooks by claiming they are virus free (as opposed to Windows).

        1. Judging by the number of downloads of FB on Android, people aren’t concerned with privacy at all. Microsoft is pushing anything they can because they are losing billions on their shitty investments and projects.

          1. True! But I am predicting a change in people’s attitudes in the coming years. Privacy will be on more peoples’ minds. Or maybe I’m the only privacy nut!!?!?? ;-)

            Microsoft losing billions? They have a pretty good profit so you might want to check on that again.

          2. Losing billions as in losing profits. Just because you’re bringing in profit doesn’t mean you’re not losing money. Instead of bringing in more or equal profits as the year before, their profits are dropping 20%+ at a time. If their products keep failing and they keep wasting money on campaigns like this they’ll eventually lose all profits, then what are they going to do?

          3. @FidelityNy:disqus You have your head in the ground if you think that Google makes profit on all their products/services.

          4. I don’t know what Google’s profits have to do with this. That’s the opposite of what we’re talking about. Google’s profits are going up so fast that they’re being attacked every couple of months by Microsoft. Microsoft failed with Windows Phone, Windows 8 is not doing so great, and even Skype has been screwed over with Premium features, to be honest the only thing they have going great for them is the Xbox, and with all of the recent next gen Xbox rumors (with good information to back them), it looks like they’ve screwed that up too.

        2. Want to protect your privacy? Get a tent, live in the woods, use two cans and some string. Cut up your credit/debit cards, get rid of the bank account. Then you’ll have privacy.

          1. @ScottColbert It’s unfortunate that you think it’s all or nothing.

    2. Where do I go to buy this personal information they are selling? And what exactly is for sale?

      1. As a developer, I pay Google to host my app in the Play Store. In return, they give me buyer personal data. On Apple and MS, I can only see what country the buyer is located it….nothing else.

        1. you clearly are not a dev as google host apps for free, there is just a registration fee to become a publisher.

          1. Whether you want to call it registration fee or hosting fee, I paid Google $25 for Play Store presence. Then they charge me 30% of the app fee for what I definitely would call hosting fee. Please hold off the accusations as you don’t have all the facts.

  9. I would’nt be surprised if they got the ideas for those commercials from this post http://phandroid.com/2013/02/14/developer-information-security/

  10. Microsoft attacked Google in their ‘Smoked by Windows Phone’ challenge, they attacked Google in the ‘Bing It On!’ challenge, they’ve attacked Google through Twitter with ‘Android Horror Stories for a free Windows Phone.’ Now they do this… Is it even legal to continuously openly attack your opposition in this sort of fashion, spending millions on marketing just for this purpose.

    1. The guy on the top will always be attacked….doesn’t matter what industry or product.

      1. The tallest trees catch the most wind.

    2. Microsoft historically favors advertising based on spreading Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. It was used extensively by them in the advertising against Linux servers.

      1. Kind of funny, that sounds exactly like a certain political party’s strategy here in the US as well.

        1. Democrats.

      2. that’s why LINUX is now on 70% of ALL WORLD servers.;)
        Open, secure and great.

  11. The big question is are people even listening. If not, people will just start to ignore Microsoft with the impression that they cannot compete on their own product’s merit that they have to stoop to this level. And I won’t be surprised if other companies’ app stores do the same thing.

    1. As a developer for all three, I can say that Apple and MS doesn’t.

      1. The Apple ID is an e-mail address, isn’t it? How can a developer check if a person asking for support legitimately bought the app?

        1. Why would you have to? I’ve never tried to verify someone asking for support and actually neither has anyone else I know in the app developer community. I respond to anyone who emails me with app questions. I consider that great customer service. And frankly, I doubt anyone would ask for support unless they have purchased and used the app.

  12. Looks like Microsoft is feeling the heat… at least they aren’t going down without a fight…. hopefully they will put more effort in competing instead of litigating

  13. Why doesn’t Microsoft want me to know who my customers are? And why would we be denied the same basic analytics that an Web store gets? This seems to be a way to favor pirated apps and prevent developer controlled refunds more than protecting customers. One more reason for developers to stay away from Windows Phone.

    1. There is some information developers have no business knowing, particularly my GPS coordinates (neighborhood location). It all has to do with how Google captures this information. They claim it’s anonymous, but all you need are 3-4 data points and you can identify who the person is without knowing their name.

      You can see where they spend their time (at home every night, at work every day), even which route they drive to and from work and where they most frequently shop. Once you know this info, you can figure out the person’s name even though the info is “anonymous”. Google (and other companies too like Apple, MS) should have a better way of capturing and truly making the data anonymous and unable to figure out someone’s identity. Once you know someone’s name, email address, mail address, work address, stores they frequently shop at, and which routes they take to and from those destinations, in the wrong hands that spells trouble and is ripe for ID theft.

      1. Wow.

        Where to start…

        “There is some information developers have no business knowing”

        Though there is some cross-over in mobile apps, we are talking about retailers, not developers here. Retailers have *always* required name, address and credit card info.

        I’m actually going to ignore the rest as it really isn’t relevant to this specific topic and seems to involve Social Engineering practices and multiple possible sources of data not available through the Play Store and not traditionally sold or given to advertisers.

        1. This article and MS’ attack ad is specific to the Play Store and how this data is shared with developers. In the ad MS calls out neighborhood location (which hints at GPS data), and Google never denied this data is shared with developers.

          Google who runs the Play Store has to collect credit card, name and all relevant payment information to process payment that then gets passed onto the developer when someone purchases an app via the Play Store. If the app manages mobile payment, then yes these apps obviously need you to enter payment info so they can process mobile payment. The user would enter this into the app directly, and it wouldn’t come from Google anyway.

          The question is why do individual app developers need individual user GPS information as MS hints to in their attack ad, which Google hasn’t denied?

          1. Anyone selling an app through the play store is a retailer. You can call them developers if you wish, but this is not always the case…I’m trying to be specific.

            They need name/address/CC# info in order to process refunds after the 15 minute window, which many of them do. I have personal experience with this (Fancy Widget). Google wallet processes the payments, but that information then goes to the retailers to allow them to offer future refunds, verify account info for payment verification failures/refunds/etc…

            “information as MS hints to in their attack ad”

            MS “hints” at a lot. It’s called F.U.D. If they don’t come right out and make an accusation, there’s nothing to defend against because no accusation was made. It’s a marketing (and trolling) tactic, and a dirty one at that.

            I can make an ad campaign “hinting” that you’re a bi-polar, Ritalin addled, street-bum, but if I don’t actually make the accusation, you coming out and claiming “I’m not a bi-polar, Ritalin addled, street bum” simply relates people’s perceptions of *you* to those things even more than I ever legally could.

            Either way: the attacking advertiser wins….even if their claims are wholly untrue (or at the very least, highly misleading).

          2. So let me get this straight. I simply raise the question of privacy and you simply dismiss it that there’s nothing to worry about and proceed to attack me by calling me “a bi-polar, Ritalin addled, street-bum”? That’s quite the intellectual response.

            I wasn’t attacking anyone tool bag. MS raised a valid question in their ad. This question doesn’t ONLY apply to Google, it applies more broadly to ALL mobile OS’ like Apple, MS, BlackBerry and others. With the explosion of ID theft, and the amount of data companies that run App stores like Google, Apple and MS capture, there is the potential that in the wrong hands this data could be missused and lead to ID theft.

          3. I called you nothing. I made an example of what MS is doing.

            Obviously, what I said about you was untrue. That was the point. I thought I made that pretty clear.

            Nor did I dismiss anything. I simply refuted your claims that retailers (developers, as you like to call them) have no business knowing your payment info.

            Obviously, you are unable to discuss this rationally. Hate on, I guess.

          4. I’m trying to discuss rationally and logically. I understand your point about retailers/developers needing payment info, and am not disputing that as you raise a very valid point. Retailers/developers need to handle refunds, and if Google Play doesn’t process these transactions as the intermediary between the end user and the retailer (like I assumed was the case), then retailers need the information to do it themselves.

            I’m more concerned about the sharing of GPS coordinates, as even when this is anonymous once you know 3+ data points you can figure out the identity of that person.

            With the explosion of smartphones and facebook, more and more data is being warehoused by companies like Google, Apple and MS, and much of this data is very private in nature. Just like Visa and Mastercard get hacked and people steal personal info, the same thing can happen with Google, Apple MS and others. Invariably, it always takes awhile for laws/regulations and security to catch up to new threats created by the sudden explosion of new technology.

          5. I have no issues with anything you said in your last post. Nice to see some logic and reason.

            Using social engineering to commit identity theft is indeed a large issue, but I rather think it’s a far broader issue than what was raised in the article or “hinted at” by Microsoft’s commercial (another one of those data warehouses).

            My basic point is that the information Google gathers and gives out from the Play store to retailers is necessary for the retailers to function to the degree we as users expect them to be able to.

            As for GPS co-ordinates, again, MS hints at this, but just as I hinted certain aspects of your character, MS’s hints are currently unverifiable and could be just as false.

            For example: Nowhere in their Google Wallet Privacy Policy do they mention GPS or the users location information (other than that required to verify payment…which would be better than GPS..it’s your billing/shipping address).

            Basically, I am not arguing that privacy and ID theft aren’t huge issues. They are. I am simply stating that Google, as MS would have us believe, is not doing anything outside of what every other retailer on the planet does for online orders, not even anything outside of what Microsoft themselves do.

          6. Right. Google likely doesn’t do anything different then what MS themselves or others do, so MS’ whole “Scroogled” campaign is dumb.

            You are right we don’t know what exact data Google does share with it’s business partners and under what circumstances. It’s a valid concern to question whether Google (or any company) is sharing more information then they need to. If they are only sharing the minimum that is required for their business partners to function, then there is no issue. There is nothing wrong with forcing business partners to have to request more detailed data beyond payment info, along with a justification of why they need it, rather then giving everyone access to every piece of data they may want to look at. There is always the risk of oversharing information, so it’s a worthwhile question to ask of everyone who compiles warehouses of data and not just Google.

            In general, there was an article awhile back about how Google’s anonymous user data, which includes GPS coordinates, actually can be used to figure out an anonymous user’s identity by matching 3+ data points. So while this data may not be shared as part of the Google Play transactions with retailers (as MS hinted to), there is still a risk that MS and others are opening Pandora’s box by capturing very detailed data that can be hacked and data mined in order to undermine people’s privacy and for ID theft.

            I agree Google isn’t doing anything that MS, Apple or others are already doing. But if any of them isn’t properly protecting sensitive information, or are oversharing info, then hopefully they will alter course. History has shown unfortunately though that they won’t change course unless they are pressured to do so by consumers and regulators, and that typically only comes after a crisis in which sensitive info was already compromised and used for fraud.

          7. On the other side of that though, we quickly get into the area where limiting the amount of data they can share limits their ability to do business (with us) and, as consumers, how we can shop/surf/etc…

            Basically, IMO (humble as it is *grin*), any egregious over-sharing of data will eventually out itself one way or another before things get too out of control for that specific instance, running afoul of the laws we currently have in place. (though there is always room to examine the current laws over time and adjust as needed to correct for how the markets and the whole process of buying/selling evolves)

            In the cases of data-theft by 3rd parties…that has less to do with how a company uses or gathers the data and more with how they protect it.

          8. OK every user has the right to see what their apps have access to, it tells you after you start the download. Sure some apps don’t need your GPS location but what about those which are in different countries wouldn’t they wonder why so many people download then uninstall even though it just because its only offered in one language, why should developers be able to see where there products go?

  14. Its called read the damn phone premission.

    1. This has nothing to do with permissions. This is when you buy an app, it shares the information through google wallet.

      1. The same information shared by you to every online retailer you buy anything from.

        This is nothing new, nor is it specific to Google. Every online retailer has always required this information to process payments.

  15. Microsoft can’t keep up, let alone compete with Google and they are getting desperate, it shows.

  16. I don’t care that Google goes through my email. So what? And please everyone SHUT UP and stop comparing it to some random person going through your stuff. That is completely different. You have no idea how often I see that analogy.

    I don’t see any privacy concerns. I’ve had my data online since I was 16 and guess what? No one is showing up at my door. I mean what will they do with that information? Tell me they know I like shopping on eBay over Amazon? Oh my!!

    And if I truly wanted to be sneaky, I have another email for that. I mean it’s not that hard to do. -_-

    1. The only way to be truly private is to get off the grid and go live in a cave.

    2. The part that is concerning is now that your phones have GPS and companies like Google, Apple, MS and others capture this data and share it with other parties that don’t need to know. It used to just be your name and phone number, now it also includes address, email address, and GPS coordinates. Information most 3rd parties (and even Google quite frankly) have no business knowing.

      A developer needs payment, and Google processes the payment transaction through the Play store. What does the developer need your email address or GPS location (neighborhood) for? If your app crashes, they could capture an error log. No need for Google to preemptively give app developers open access to all your account information that they quite frankly have no business knowing.

    3. No Nickname…. no offense but that’s because you’re ignorant. To say that you don’t care if someone goes through your email because it may “benefit your experience” is the EXACT same thing as saying it is ok for the media to leave out (read censor) details because it may cause hysteria. Once you open Pandora’s box… you cannot close it. Be vary careful. And again this is in no way an offense to you, I don’t even know you, but I am a software developer and a database developer and I have seen first hand what happens to peoples data when they are not careful… even when it’s the most trivial little thing. You’d be VERY surprised.

      1. I’ll remember your words. I do understand what you’re saying. Also, it’s not just “people” I don’t mind reading my emails. I was being very specific when I said Google. I do try and be careful who I grant access to. There’s a lot of apps I don’t even play on Facebook because they want access to so much of your stuff on Facebook.

        I do try and be careful who I let access to my stuff. But for Google, I have been more lenient to them being able to “view” my information. You can say Google’s gained my trust. I just hope they don’t break it. =.S

        But yea. I’m understanding your point and taking your information with an open-mind.

  17. Google needs to hit back and hit really hard.
    Microsoft has become a POS company. Even their Windows 8 is crappy. Their windows 7 was even more intuitive. They’re a deteriorating company.

  18. Why are all the developers in the commercial geeky looking? Microsoft does know that these “Android developers” they are making fun of are the ones they want to make apps for their ecosystem, right?

  19. It’s a double edge sword. the more info they have on you the better services they can offer and potentially do something evil with the data.

  20. Ah the Vole F.U.D., never stops, good ole lie to achieve Micro$oft.

  21. Microsoft please get off Googles nuts

  22. ms sucks donkies ass

  23. Unlike Google play store, windows phone marketplace have 1/10 of all the apps worth buying.

  24. Name one thing that Microsoft’s been relevant for since the launch of Android besides Windows 7…. go on… I’ll wait…

    1. Kin! Surface! RROD!
      Microsoft is worthless.

  25. back in your hole MS… back in your hole!

  26. I find it ironic that Microsoft is accusing another company of “forcing” companies to use their software… Microsoft: King of the hypocrites.

  27. yea they don’t share your info because they don’t ha any apps!!

  28. makes me embarrassed to own a Windows PC

  29. Is Microsoft desprerate or what?T

  30. I don’t mind the direct comparisons between platform features like “we don’t share any info, google does” kind of thing (it’s a lot like the: I’m a Mac, I’m a PC adverts), but the statement “you can’t trust their app store, maybe you shouldn’t trust them for anything” is clearly just scaremongering and really pisses me off.

  31. if you can’t beat Google and is scared of its GROWING and GROWING popularity despite everything,
    just hate it to death, launch shitstorms, spread ugly FUD and ask for “antitrust investigations”.
    ~ Microsoft & Apple(Oracle)

    +to look cool just launch 2 pathetic Windows 8 ads with “cool” music.

  32. I used to support Microsoft but no more.Attacking Google because they have an inferior product is ignorant. But the real reason I don’t like them is that piece of garbage Windows 8. Even on a high end laptop its pure crap and lets not even discuss the Windows RT tablets.
    Microsoft needs to spend some of that attack ad money on r&d and immediately fire the team who came up with the metro interface. I can’t imagine any business ever buying that junk.

  33. If Microsoft is better why aren’t they just proving it then? That’s how Android capsized the iPhone. It’s not a matter of opinion – Android is better, not only better but the best.

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