Microsoft Scroogling around

Microsoft Gmail logo

Microsoft has launched an attack campaign against Google by launching Scroogled.com. Not to be mistaken with Scroogle which was a search engine that anonymised Google searches by acting as a proxy.

For once Microsoft has a point. As often in such cases they are saying the right thing for the wrong reasons. In this case Microsoft is using using the fact that they haven't taken things as far as Google to attack them. However I did learn that all Google Shopping results are paid for (I don't use Google Shopping).

I can't really blame any of these companies for exploiting user's private data without also blaming the users. Nobody is willing to pay a dime for an email account (unless it's "pro", and even then). This has formatted the industry to function this way. People used to think that email was such an intangible gadget that the thought of paying for it was surreal, this was at a time in which service providers were still searching for ways to be profitable.

Now that everyone is hooked to email, it is still rare for people to pay money for the service of email (or go through the effort of self-hosting), no matter how vital it has become for many of us.

What is left to say except the usual read the terms and conditions, and only if you agree should you click "agree". It's all in the terms, and Microsoft's terms are not any better. Microsoft has provisions to allow themselves to do the same exact thing Google is doing. It's just that they're not doing it, yet.

In an ideal world users would host their own services, in a less ideal world people would pay for the service and hold their providers accountable for maintaining privacy and protecting their data as much as legally and technically possible.

Other reading: John Gilmore on Google's Gmail terms-of-service (from 2004).

comments:
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Nux

Yes, the email situation is quite grim, we have an oligopoly of dubious providers.
For some reason commercial providers such as fastmail.fm never caught on, perhaps not enough millions invested in marketing.
"Run your own" can work if you're a techie, but we still don't have an easy to deploy platform for Average Joe - I'm talking a good platform with decent support for webmail, imap, cardav, caldav etc that you can easily deploy, stuff you normally need nowadays.
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manu - http://manurevah.com

I didn't know about Fastmail (maybe heard of them) but I do know of the other classics like Gandi, 1&1 and others like that.

For example with Gandi, if you get your own domain name (about 15 dollars a year) you get 5 email accounts that share 1GB. That's pretty cheap considering that anyone with no tech knowledge could have ad-free email using a personal domain name.

I don't know how much cheaper it has to be for people to consider these types of solutions as superior.

As for the "Run your own", it does take extra work that even some GNU/Linux users find difficult.

I've put a bit of work in making DISS a usable way of installing a fully functional complete personal multi-domain server. It automates everything but still requires knowing what DNS is and so on.. Could be time to make such a tool even easier.

Freedombox tries to do that, but that cannot work with the ISPs most people are subscribed to.
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Andrew

Dear Microsoft,

I felt my privacy was violated when I discovered WMP sent you records of what songs and DVDs I was watching. Like most users, I didn't read your privacy policies.

But I totally agree with the hidden message on your latest privacy campaign. I should avoid sending my personal information to *any* company, including yours.

If only OpenPGP was a popular standard (*sign*)...

Regards,
Andrew.

PS. I heard you own a share of Facebook. Could you tell them to mind their own business as well? :)
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Nux

Manu, I've checked Gandi's webmail and I don't think they're serious about it. I think for them is just a little service they need to offer for the portofolio.

webmail.gandi.net took 2 minutes to load fully and it's just a simple roundcube.
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manu - http://manurevah.com

Andrew, I didn't know they did that with CDs/DVDs.. At least they tell you how to disable that.

In any case, Microsoft pointing at Google is clearly hypocritical.

Nux, I'm not going to defend Gandi's mail as I've not used it at all, but it loads at normal speed here, maybe there was an issue when you tried ?

Also, I don't consider Roundcube to be just a simple webmail, I mean, Roundcube is pretty complete, and then there's plugins and so on. It depends on what they've included, but you're probably right that they haven't all the calendering stuff, that's too bad (and they are using an older version of RC).

Maybe there's room on the market for decent email, but people are too used to getting everything for "free".
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Nux

Well, there is still a big market for "Exchange" email hosting and people seem to be paying for it without problems.
Just wrapping up an RC install does not cut it anymore, you need good smartphone integration as a lot of people do part of their business/etc from these mobile devices; so calendaring, activesync, tasks, contacts.
We're loking at Zarafa or Sogo+Openchange here.

I think there is still money to be made here I believe, I hear google just cut off the list their free offering for google apps on "your own domain"[1] so many more people will be looking at this kind of services from elsewhere.

[1] - http://googleenterprise.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/changes-to-google-apps-for-businesses.html
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manu - http://manurevah.com

Isn't the "Exchange" email hosting mostly used by professionals rather than for personal use ?

I agree halfway with Roundcube. By default it doesn't have much more than email + contacts (contacts has been finally properly implemented since not to long ago, at least and at last). As for the calendar and tasks, there are plugins but either non-Free and crappy or experimental (and pretty damn good) from Kolab. There are also many other very nice plugins that just work. (I'll give you a tour in a couple of weeks).

I need to take more time on the Kolab thing, I've setup an RC instance for someone with the Kolab plugins hacked in it, they now have a calendar, they can invite people to events and accept events from Gmail users and so on. It's really pretty good and lightweight.

Kolab also has a full version a la Sogo, Zarafa. It has "everything" and is designed for "enterprise" collaboration.

I don't know which one is best, but actually the fact that there are more and more is very positive (Kolab is fairly recent). What I like with Kolab is that to achieve their thing they've developed plugins for Roundcube and that trickles back to RC users who don't have the whole Kolab thing, including a plugin to integrate OwnCloud into RC.


Actually, another really bad thing with Gmail/Google, I know people who paid for their services (email mostly), I think it was about 5GBP per account for 2GB. I noticed that even on the paid for solution there were adverts. Not to mention that everything you did on the "pro email" affected the users' experience on all the other G-services (google, youtube, etc). It's like the worst of both worlds, you pay AND you are tracked and served adverts.
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Nux

Hm, need to look into Kolab then.
Sometimes when I'll have time I want to make a VPS appliance with such a solution that would work out of the box and is very easy to use by average Joe on his mobile.
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