Or: No, Microsoft, you’re not FaceBook
This post started as a rant at Microsoft. Last patch Tuesday, one of my machines auto-patched and auto-rebooted, causing data loss and corrupted files. However, the damage was minimal, and I got over it. Since then, however, something quite worrying has happened.
I have an old Hotmail address that I occasionally check; I used it before I moved to GMail, which is superior in every way, some years ago. I use the Android Hotmail app to access it from my phone. Some time within the past few days it auto-updated, and when I ran it this morning, it instructed me to “upgrade” to the Outlook.Com app.
So… I Installed the new shiny Outlook App. Surprisingly, the new app did not remember my login credentials. That is because it is also not an “upgrade” at all – it is a completely different app – the old, now-useless and completely brain-dead Hotmail app was left in place.
When I entered my credentials, it took me to another screen where it asked for permission to access my data.
Wow… that’s asking for a lot of personal information. mail, contacts, calendar, tasks, e-mail addresses, gender, picture, contacts, friends…
But I don’t want another FaceBook clone, just an e-mail client, so naturally I said “No”. And then…
I checked the password. It was OK. Note that this request for information is in the app itself, NOT in the Play store. And before you ask, yes, you can “change these settings at any time”, but any app that is given access to your phone’s information can scarf all the data it wants in half a second, changing permissions later would be like locking the barn door after after the horse had bolted and was merrily cavorting in the next county.
This looks like Microsoft is trying to scarf my personal data by stealth, without going through the Google Permission screens. If so, they should be soundly spanked in public for this. How can you tell? Simple. If Microsoft are not trying to… er… “borrow” your data, they will fix this so the app can be used without those “permissions”. If they don’t, just like Verizon’s broken-for-eight-months-with-no-fix-in-sight data-usage widget, we will know precisely where they stand.
Until then… Shame on you, Microsoft.