Microsoft says Google Will "Scroogle" GMail Users

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Microsoft promotes Outlook.com as the sensible alternative to a nosy Google that "goes through every Gmail," and invades your privacy with targeted ads. But Microsoft's sensationalism falls falt and belies a larger effort to promote its cloud applications, like Office 365.

scroogleIt's not Microsoft Corp.'s brightest moment. Microsoft has launched a campaign to extol the benefits of the privacy-centric Outlook.com and paint Google Inc.'s Gmail service as a privacy nightmare, full of targeted ads and e-mail invasion. Rather than playing up why Outlook.com can really offer a better experience,  however, Microsoft spent much of its energy constructing Scroogle.com, a site devoted to attacking the entire Gmail service.

Microsoft's site proudly proclaims that "Google goes through every Gmail that’s sent or received, looking for keywords so they can target Gmail users with paid ads. And there’s no way to opt out of this invasion of your privacy. Outlook.com is different—we don’t go through your email to sell ads." To prove its point, Scroogle.com features screen shots of targeted ads, some innocuous, like resort ads targeted around vacation e-mails, and some insensitive, like divorce lawyer ads targeted around conversation about separation. But the site  also offers out-of-context quotes from Google's chairman Eric Schmidt and pithy video commercials that serve to highlight more of the same.

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While it's true that e-mails are used to provide targeted adverts, to attest that Google personally digs through your e-mail is a gross warping of how Google's system works. Google does provide targeted and personalized ads, but users can opt out of personalized ads right here. And while -- yes -- Google will still send "relevant" ads to your screen, Google's privacy policy outlines the anonymous data it collects, which is par for the course for many free online services -- like Facebook.com.

Although most users take Google's motto "don't be evil" with a grain of salt, many of Google's practices fuel the betterment of new and innovative products -- Google 411, for example, helped refine Google's voice recognition capabilities. This cyclical process has more or less been Google's business for years. Google's advertising revenue from Gmail does help make the platform better -- Google has continually increased the capacity of free e-mail storage to their users, which now counts as space towards Google Drive. 

In truth, Microsoft ploy likely won't disrupt Google's Gmail anytime soon -- its clear Microsoft's real agenda is to lure users back to the Microsoft ecosystem and snag more eyeballs for its Office 365 platform, arguably the most integral part of Microsoft's blossoming cloud strategy. But a smear campaign against one of the world's best known Internet companies and free sources of reliable e-mail? It seems desperate, crass and a bit out-of-touch.

If you count Microsoft's anti-Google sentiment during the promotion of Redmond's own Bing search engine, this marks Microsoft's second attempt to grab market share away from the search giant.

With a Surface Pro tablet that hardly lives up to its moniker, a half-baked Surface RT tablet, a fledgling Windows Phone division among tepid Windows 8 sales, Microsoft should really be focusing on what it does best: software.

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