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  1. 2 Star Lounger
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    TOP STORY

    Windows Live shares your Messenger contacts


    By Woody Leonhard

    Anticipating its "Wave 4" Windows Live rollout of new Hotmail and Messenger apps, Microsoft made sweeping changes in how it connects you with its latest social-networking construct.

    With the new Live format, Microsoft pays a great deal of lip service to maintaining your privacy; but my tests show you can't trust what you see on the screen.

    The full text of this column is posted at WindowsSecrets.com/2010/07/22/01 (opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.
    Last edited by revia; 2011-01-19 at 14:43.

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  3. New Lounger
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    I tried something else. From the Privacy Options page, I clicked Windows Live in the upper left column. This opened the Options page. There I clicked Your updates in the Messenger Social section. This opened the Manage your socila updates page. I unchecked all of the options and clicked Save. I hope this works - but finding it? That's another story!
    Yehuda Z.

  4. New Lounger
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    Hi,

    Just yesterday I discovered something similar on my Google Account Public Profile (though with a relatively lesser degree of privacy concern).

    I have a few photograph albums uploaded on Picasa Web Albums.
    Except one, all other albums are marked as 'Unlisted' -- which means they do not show up in any public searches by anybody.
    And only people whom I share the links with, can view those albums (if they forward the links to others, that's another story !).

    Yesterday, I noticed that photographs from one more album (which was Unlisted) were displayed on my Public Profile page !
    No amount of changing that album's settings in Picasa Web Albums, would make those photographs disappear.

    Finally, out of frustration, I simply disabled the display of ALL albums (NO PHOTOGRAPHS !) on the Public Profile page.

    Khushnood Viccaji
    Mumbai, India

  5. New Lounger
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    It is appalling that your Windows Live list for people you've only messaged does not remain private - the analogy you give of it being similar to if the iphone started telling you "Your dentist called Bank of America" really brings it home how ridiculous it is.

    I don't use Windows Live, but do use Skype - hope it doesn't decide to go the same way!

  6. The Following User Says Thank You to sbraddock For This Useful Post:

    JohnS0603 (2011-05-30)

  7. New Lounger
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    Woody, after reading your article, I will not go anywhere near Windows Live. If they are playing fast and loose with the messenger information, I can only imagine what else they are playing fast and loose with. Frankly, I believe that Social Networking, Cell phones, and some of the other things they have tried and failed at are best left to the folks that are doing well at those products. With the exception of Windows ME and Vista, Microsoft builds good operating systems, and generally builds good office/academic apps such as Office. They should stick to those.

    Bill Stewart

  8. The Following User Says Thank You to w2bsa For This Useful Post:

    JohnS0603 (2011-05-30)

  9. New Lounger
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    Yes. I consider this presumptive approach to be unethical. So lets find a way to stop it.

  10. Lounger LilBambi's Avatar
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    I just went into my Windows Live (haven't been there in months), and had a very frustrating time trying to see what settings were for privacy and notifications, and contacts and what contacts can see, etc. The settings are all over the place and some I had trouble getting back to because some settings are only visible from particular areas and some seem not to be available at all - even though they are referenced in the contact privacy area.

    If you have a new contact invitation, it gives you the ability to limit the information shared with that contact, if you accept the invitation. However, it appears that for existing contacts you no longer have the ability to change to restricted information at a later time? (At least I can't find any place to do that).

    This is far worse than Facebook* because as Woody noted, it is tied to my LiveID which is linked to ALL Microsoft's offerings from email to messenger, to documents, pictures, passport, spaces, etc. And because it is linked to things like Passport (which you need in order to have access to some important offerings like the Windows 7 Beta program), it makes it impossible to just delete it.

    This is a privacy nightmare.

    * I have already deactivated and later deleted my Facebook account some time ago
    Fran Parker, AKA Bambi, Linux User #183283, Ubuntu User #11114, CNI Radio
    BambisMusings, Tumblr, Twitter, Malware Complaints - Stand Up and be Counted!
    I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which grant[s] a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.
    --James Madison, 1794

  11. Lounger
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    One thing readers need to be aware of is that the new 'Beta' version of 'any' of the Windows Live' family makes the security suite of "Vipre" fail to start. Lots of people who have used this program for months find when they install Windows Live "Beta" that when they reboot their computer that Vipre fails to start. The fix to repair this is to uninstall the "Beta" that was just installed. There is a serious conflict with this Beta.

  12. New Lounger
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    I really appreciate the comments regarding the lack of security on Hotmail and Google, Could we get suggestions on this forum for some of the secure email servers, please? I've a dual boot with the option to run either Windows XP or Linux Mint 9 'Isadora'.

    Thanks,
    Dick

  13. New Lounger
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    I, too, found the http://windows.live.com/options page. There are more settings under the 'Messenger Social' section, specifically 'Your updates', I clicked there and de-selected all of the options there.

    Here are the options they have:
    Connected services - Updates about services connected to Windows Live
    Discussions - Updates about discussions in groups
    Favorite things - Updates about favorite books, music, and movies
    Groups - Updates about groups
    Messenger games - Updates about games played in Windows Live Messenger
    MSN - News, sports, weather, entertainment, and financial info all in one place.
    Network - Updates when people become friends
    Office on SkyDrive - Updates about shared documents on SkyDrive
    Photos on SkyDrive - Updates about new photos
    Profile - Profile updates
    Profile notes - Updates about notes left on profiles
    Shared favorites - Updates about shared favorites
    Spaces blogs - Blog updates on Windows Live Spaces
    Spaces guestbook - Updates about comments added to guestbooks
    Spaces lists - Updates about changes to lists on Spaces

    I'm hoping that will help.

    -George

  14. New Lounger
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    I still think the worst part it that they refer to your buddies as your "Live Friends"... As opposed to your dead friends?

    The real twisted irony of this: If they were to die in real life, they would still be in your "Live Friends" list.

  15. Administrator Woody's Avatar
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    Excellent posts, everybody. I'm still appalled by all of this.

    @George - there are two different collections of 16 settings. One set is for you, going out to your Buddies, er, Friends. (Alive or dead.) The other set is for your Friends coming in to you. I tried ten ways from Tuesday, and couldn't figure out how to get the tattling turned off. My guess is that changing the settings for me - going out to my Friends - may (or may not) change tattling on Future Friends. But I couldn't find anything at all that would affect Current Friends.

    In other words, if I initiate a Messenger conversation with Phineas Fogg, that fact will be echoed to all of my established Friends, forever - and there's not a blessed thing I can do about it.

    To put it another way, why isn't the "Private" setting Private? Is that too much to ask?
    Woody

    For Dummies book author, Senior Editor at Windows Secrets Newsletter, Senior Contributing Editor for InfoWorld, and long-suffering Windows victim. Check out the latest at AskWoody.com.

  16. New Lounger
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    Oh, Woody. Must we go round and round about this again? I've just read your new article in the Windows Secrets newsletter, and it's once again clear that either (a) you really don't know what you're talking about or (b) you like to create a lot of sensationalism in your writing by pandering to people's fears about privacy on socially oriented websites. This notion of third party tattling (the first time I've ever heard anyone use that term) is really a tempest in a teapot. Yes, Windows Live Messenger requires you to add people to your network in order to chat with them, and yes, depending on your notification settings, your other friends may see that you've added that person as a friend. But this is really a non-issue for most people, because it's easy to disable such notifications, most people who actually use the social features of Windows Live find these notifications extremely useful, and most people actually want the convenience of keeping their contacts in one simple, unified list.

    To turn off the new friend notifications, you just have to modify your permissions, which can easily be done either from within Messenger or via the Windows Live web UI. George is on the right track, but he didn't get the URL correct; the page he meant to link is at http://www.live.com/options. But I'll go even one step further...the page that controls your Messenger Social updates is located at http://profile.live.com/whatsnewwithyousettings/. There's a simple list of check boxes that allow you to control what kinds of updates you share with your social network. Smack in the middle of which is an option called "Network," with a description that reads "Updates when people become friends." If you don't like to broadcast your acquaintances, then just uncheck the darn thing. Problem solved.

    Wanna hide a previous update? Click that little gear wheel beside it on your Messenger Social stream, and remove it (and BTW, there's also a link there to the aforementioned update settings). Done.

    I think the genius of Windows Live is that it allows you to use just the bits you want. Don't like all the social updates and public profile stuff? Fine, then don't use it. Lock down your profile so nobody sees anything, and just use Hotmail, if that's all you want. It's not rocket surgery, folks.

    See, you assume wrongly that Microsoft is either (a) inept at configuring security or (b) out to trick you into revealing more about yourself than you want. I don't get why everything has to be so cloak and dagger with you guys. Windows Live is a social experience. That's how it was designed. IM is inherently social and always has been. E-mail to a lesser extent. Other Windows Live services are blogging and sharing updates...all social. To function, these services all depend heavily on lists of established contacts, so it makes sense to provide a unified list of contacts. What's tripping you up is the recent attempts to interconnect more previously detached Microsoft services. You signed up for Hotmail or Messenger a decade ago, and now you're bummed that it doesn't work exactly the same way it used to. But here's the thing, most people who use Windows Live as designed actually want to know when their common friends are using it. That fosters better and deeper connections with people you actually care about. For instance, let's say that my sister and I are chatting on Messenger, and I see that she's added my mom to her network. Wow! I didn't know mom was using Windows Live! Then I can invite her to my network, too. I might come back and inquire why you're using Messenger to talk with people you really don't want others to know about, but that's your business.

    You know, your own WS Lounge website has some rather social features. I have a profile with an avatar and interests and everything. I can even make friends on here! While I was perusing the bowels of my profile, I noticed that the site reported the last threads to which I'd replied and the last few users who'd viewed my profile. The information beside this posts tells people where I'm from! How dare you share that kind of information with other users?

    So I remain unimpressed with your little exposť. Stick to covering Office, Woody.

    PS: The Skeptic Geek has a pretty favorable review of Windows Live's social features. You should really check it out. http://www.skepticgeek.com/socialweb...-buzz-promised

  17. New Lounger
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    Just one more reason why I don't have anything MSFT in our household. We run 100% Linux on every system, all 19 laptops, phones, desktops and servers.
    The lightbulb went on for me about MSFT when I was helping them at their Redmond campus in 2003 - they were bloated and out of control seven years ago, and I haven't seen any signals of improvement since.

    This was great reporting, I have shared it with several friends who act as support to their friends and family.

    As for mine? 80 yr old dad on a 'Droid and running Ubuntu on his two laptops and desktop. In laws running Ubuntu on their desktop. No support headaches for me!

  18. New Lounger
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    What's the big deal ? There's another technology for private web communication. It's called email.

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