About a month ago, Apple got into some trouble regarding how they allegedly collect and track iPhone users and their information. Microsoft quickly followed up by clearly laying out how they collect information from mobile users and its use.
Microsoft has taken their transparency on this issue one step further by releasing some source code for their Wi-Fi data collection software.
In a Technet blog post by Reid Kuhn entitled Microsoft Shares Source Code for Wi-Fi Data Collection Software, Microsoft reveals that they are releasing parts of their own source code, developed by the Windows Phone Engineering team to the public for review:
“Today, Microsoft is sharing relevant portions of the source code for our managed driving data collection software to provide those interested an opportunity to review the code we use for collection of such information. The source code is hosted on the MSDN web site. The source code demonstrates both the type and amount of data we collect when surveying Wi-Fi access points through managed driving.”
Kuhn continues on the specifics of the source code:
“The code…uses publicly documented interfaces for accessing cell tower, Wi-Fi data access point and GPS data. In addition to collecting and uploading GPS, Wi-Fi and cell data, it also includes other management and administrative functions related to provisioning, self-upgrade, self-recovery and diagnostics.
Additionally, and important for respecting consumer privacy, the software does not intercept wireless data transmissions from consumers’ computers (so called “payload” data). The software neither observes nor records any information that may contain user content transmitted over a network. At Microsoft, we place a priority on privacy and take steps to help ensure that our products and services protect consumers’ information. Sharing this source code, and developing Windows Phone 7 with privacy in mind, is part of that commitment.”
While to most users this information might not make any sense or seem that important, what this does show is Microsoft’s commitment to its users privacy and a stark difference in the way Microsoft does business when compared to its mobile competitor, Apple Inc.