Scroogled: Microsoft attacks Gmail to get you to use Outlook instead



Woah there, Microsoft. We’ve said before that the company is starting to get its cool back… but, apparently, it’s also starting to get its claws out. In an attempt to get you to switch to adopting its products instead of continuing to use those of its competitors, it’s leveraging a not-so-subtle attack at the privacy concerns lodged against Google under the banner of its ‘Scroogled’ campaign.

Yep. Scroogled. There’s even a dedicated website which catalogues all the ways people get (you guessed it) screwed over by Google. The first part of the campaign involved Google shopping, and detailed how all the ‘results’ are actually paid ads, and suggested you use Bing instead. The most recent stab at Gproducts is directed at Gmail, and points out why you should switch to Outlook.

The site explains how Google (algorithmically) scans all the emails you send and receive in order to sell you the ads you see around Gmail. For example, if you get an email about someone’s recent vacation, it can interpret the keywords in the mail to target the ads to display results for hotel bookings, holiday special and flights. Yes, it’s creepy, but it’s been going on for a while — and has ads too, although you can pay a yearly fee to opt out.

In two videos, Microsoft explains that you should rather be using its new Outlook webmail, because it won’t read your messages in order to push relevant ads at you, just to check for potential security concerns. It also encourages you to warn your friends about how you’ve been scroogled and to sign a petition to force Google to change its ways.

The site also features rotating questionable quotes from Google bosses like CEO Larry Page relating to their company’s creepiness, such as this gem from Chairperson Eric Schmidt: “The Google policy on a lot of things is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.” Nice to know.

According to reports, Microsoft also commissioned a survey of over 1000 American citizens to get their views on privacy invasions in email. Although they didn’t specifically name Gmail in the poll, 88% of those surveyed said they “disapprove of email service providers scanning the content of your personal emails in order to target ads”, and believe there should an easy opt-out mechanism.

Although there are ways around Google’s ads (which Microsoft doesn’t point out on the site), they involve switching to HTML mode or using the mobile app, which isn’t ideal for most users. Still, are over-simplified explanations and negative attacks the best way to promote your product?



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