Microsoft on and ads ‘We see our users as customers, not inventory’

With the re-launch of Hotmail as Microsoft has garnered a lot of adoration from the media and the public, especially when Google just announced the indefinite delay of their Nexus Q orb. As far as PR this week: Microsoft 1, Google 0.

One of the main features that Microsoft is touting with is that they won’t scan your email to deliver personalized ads—a clear shot at Google’s Gmail ad-machine. They have even set up a simple ‘how to’ on switching (opens in new tab) from Gmail to Outlook.

But with no personalized ads based on the contents of your email, how is Microsoft making money?

WP Central

Ads as presented on

The answer is technically still ads—that is Outlook has simple ads based on Bing Shopping to the right of your screen. You won’t see these ads while in an email, just in your main inbox view. But there is a sharp distinction here with Google on how they view their customers.

In an article on, a Microsoft PR agent let this not-so-slight jab fly at Google:

“We see our users as customers, not inventory”

Indeed, Microsoft considers its main source of revenue software, something that Google doesn’t actually sell. With folks buying Windows PCs, laptops. Tablets and software packages like Office, the company already has a steady stream of income. Ads in Outlook are merely an added source of revenue but not something that Microsoft needs. From that perspective, is an extension of services you already paid for when you bought Microsoft’s products.

Hotmail Plus gives users a choice

In fact, with Hotmail Plus (opens in new tab) users can pay $20 a year and have all ads gone from their inbox permanently in addition to 10GB of storage and no account expiration. It’s not too clear if Microsoft will still push ‘Plus’ with but as of right now, it carries over and ads are not presented to the end user. While paying $20 a year for email with no ads may not sit well with some people, it is at least an option that Microsoft offers and which Google does not. Leaving the decision up to the customer is really how it should be (and for the record, we are ‘Plus’ subscribers).

With the winning combination of their new re-design, an emphasis on privacy and putting customers first, Microsoft may yet have a winner with Just six hours after its release, the company boasted 1 million new accounts. Who knows how many have been created since then.


Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • Yeah Go microsoft! im glad they are taking a visually pleasing customer friendly approach to everything. Makes me glad im a Windows enthuthiast. This makes it so much easier for me to convert people to such a fuller experience with Microsoft than anything Google and Apple can offer.
  • Google PR 5
    Don't even try that, they're giving everyone their device for FREE and later models will be improved. Nice try.
  • Shouldn't you be on Androidcentral?
  • No I have a windows phone, I'm just enlightening the ignorant, such as yourself.
  • The definition of enlightenment, according to Webster's, doesn't seem to include smugness or self-righteousness.
  • Except you're not "enlightening" anybody and are only spreading bullshit. Just because Google is giving away and flawed and unwanted product for free does not mean a PR win.
  • Google are not giving it away for "free". You are giving up your privacy and personal details so they can target adverts to you based on the personal contents of your email.
    You cannot leave the Googleplex, ever. Your Social SN, Your Bank, everything you converse via email, and everything you do via Chrome or your Android handset is logged into the plex.
    If you're happy with that, power to you. But thats not free, you are selling yourself.
    Some of us aren't happy with that. Me for one. So I chose to move off of Google.
    Also, Android handset don't always get newer versions. Go "Google" (the irony) Fragmentation. ;)
  • @thelastfoiter Let us look at some stats shall we? From Android Central (an admittedly Android friendly site), in a poll of 3,634 respondents: 96.24% did NOT pre-order a Nexus Q 3.75% did pre-order a Nexus Q It's a flop that has received bad reviews and even their own base couldn't care less. Those numbers are astonishingly bad. 
  • We're not talking about sales, we're talking about PR, and it was a GOOD move by google.
  • Actually, this was a good PR move by Google. Q won't be out as promised, so they're honoring preorders by giving out free ones.
  • I think you're confusing customer realtions with PR
    All the articles about this move were negative.
    What I learned from them is that the product Google so proudly introduced just a few weeks ago was scrapped.
    it was indefinitly postponed because they realised it was crap. there's no other reason to throw a product out.
    I also assumed they didn't get too many orders if they can give it away for free to those who did order one.
    This all negative, there's nothing good about postponing a product release (just ask RIM)
    Now, giving it away for free just so the really crazy fans who ordered the product even though based on it's description and cost wasn't worth it so they don't get mad. that's a good move, for customer relations not public relations.
    I guess you really can't make a 'made in the usa' gadget that's worth the cost
  • The press savaged the debacle e.g. the Verge. That's bad PR.  Sending people the "it's crap" version for free over the new-improved one is not an awesome deal, sorry.  Fact is, Google announced a product for sale, it got terrible reviews and now it is 'indefinitely' postponed until they fix it. That is not a good strategy and it looks bad even if you are sending those 10 people who pre-ordered it a free 'dev' version.
  • They can't exactly wait x-amount of time to produce new designs, then prototypes, then mass units and THEN fulfill preorders. So they're giving it to them for free and they can spend the money they saved on the new model if they so want... They preordered the old model, not knowing there would even be a newer one, so that's what they get. They get what hey ordered but FREE. Ignorance is bliss buddy, wake up and smell the coffee.
  • I can't honestly take you seriously if you actually believe Google had a better week than Microsoft regarding product announcements. 
  • Well considering I never said anything about Microsoft you shouldn't state that, don't repeat things others never said. Microsoft had a great week, My argument is against google having a "0" week and so far you have repeatedly failed to disprove me.
  • You actually inferred it by saying "Google PR 5", which would mean "more than Microsoft's 1 point" Daniel gave them.
  • I was stating my score for google, I never stated whether or not I agreed with MS score, my post was focusing only on google, and how they were discredited, it's really not that hard guys...
  • Just be careful, I don't want you to trip and fall because you are back peddling so fast.
  • We all know exactly what you meant. You've been found out, get over it. You must be young to keep digging this hard. Bow out gracefully buddy ;)
    I know you think you have "the answer" and you've picked your side and Google rocks your socks, but let me leave you with a thought for the day:
    Google even on paid Google Apps (I know as I did research for a 1 billion pound turnover company) cannot gaurantee not to index and store private data from PAID Google Apps accounts. There is no real transparency on what they store.
    Think about that, you and your private business dealings, emails, phone numbers, invoices, amounts, telephone calls, documents - _everything_ potentially indexed and logged into the plex. Would you want that with YOUR business? Even though you pay!
    How about even though you pay, you cannot CALL GOOGLE for support directly. You have to go via a channel partner?
    This lovely wholesome vision you have of Google is a deluded fantasy based on the fact you get a great web interface for free (it is great, trust me I am a former paying customer) its excellent. But its the whole customer <-> Google interfaction around privacy that is flawed.
    Anyway. A little bit of information for you (the actual ignorant in this thread) to ponder on. The world is not as black and white as you think. But Microsoft certainly scored more points this week in the PR and mindshare battle. We've talked all week at work about Microsoft product (Win 8, Windows Phone 8, Office 2013, even iPhone 5) but we've not talked about Google once. Tells you something.
  • i just want to see how thin the comment section can get... lol :P
  • Announcing the Q only a few weeks ago or a month ago and now making a new model? Seems liek a debacle to me. 
    Perhaps it was a reaction from the consumers saying "apple tv does the same thing, but for $99".  I am sure it wasnt a huge hit on google as i believe preorders were low. 
    To me, at the price range and with services and features not exceeding appletv to warrant paying an additional hundreds of dollars, google didn't have much of a choice. 
    Good PR?  perhaps, but for the people that go to these tech sites, not good PR to them. 
  • And El-Goog is sending those that pre-ordered dev units at no cost.  So, it's not like Google is giving those that pre-ordered units actual production quality.  They were going to write them off anyhow, just like any other company that has dev kits they use internally or give to developers.
  • huh?
  • FREE
    the only word that matters
  • I got my L900 for FREE...and with fix. :D
  • The only reason for that, is because the product blows. It'll be DOA. If you want to buy my brothers, he has his posted on eBay.
  • Except its a delay. Almost every delay is to make a product better, or at the very least complete it. I see no problem with their delay, but the tech community always shutter when they hear the word delay. Whether it be hardware, software or video games. So it is a fail on google's part.
  • When you announce a product and put it up for pre-order and then take it down. it's bad. there's no way to spin it.
    In this case it's not really a delay, it's more like "scrap this product because it makes no sense in that price". you know, there were a few ipads built before the first one was released. they apparently weren't good enough (probably had all of the things us techies would love) so Jobs scrapped them and move on to do the iphone and only returned to the tablet later on.
    The difference is, he did it without anyone outside of Apple knowing about it. sure, it was the source for many apple phone rumors but it was never announced publicly.
    Google had to go all the way to putting up a pre-order page to find out no one wanted one (you know if they had a lot of pre-orders they would still sell the product) This is really Google's way of doing things. It's the public beta, which works great for web apps like gmail, but not so much for hardware
  • Microsoft doesn't just consider software their revenue stream. Ed Bott did a nice write up on that a few months ago. 97% of Google revenue was ad income, the very vast majority of Microsoft's income was software (don't forget there was some hardware; ad income was near non-existent in the chart). For those who care, most of Apple's income was from hardware (90%? I don't remember the exact number). Microsoft may try to get money from advertising, but they can give in to consumer pressure anytime without sacrificing their revenue stream. Google will always try to monetize ads, because it's their livelihood. BIG difference.
  • I'm President Obama and I approved this message.
  • +1 You are correct.
    Google, ads
    Apple, hardware
    Microsoft, very broad product range from hardware, online services, software Google are a no go for many businesses due to privacty concerns (and the lack of security on Android)
    Apple only really make end user devices (very good ones!) but they cost twice as much as commodity PCs.
    The really great thing about Apple and Google is they have forced Microsoft to up their game and make a great Phone OS, and a great Tablet and great online services.
    (Microsoft had got lazy, and made some terrible products. Windows Mobile 6.x !)
    I've noticed its always the spotty Linux nerd Android loving types who come onto comments and forums to spout their cr*p like teenage boys (most of them probably are in their 20s) and talk like they have the world figured out. Unfortunately, unlike most of us, they cannot see what a horrible fragmented mess Android is (and how they pays Microsoft ;) ). If they argued iOS is better, then maybe they would have a point. But Andoird? Yuk :)
  • The same thing happened with internet explorer. Microsoft fell asleep and Firefox came around and took a big chunk of that 90% market share.
    Because of that, Microsoft woke up and with every release IE gets much better.
    I don't see this happening again. It took Microsoft some time, but I think they're finally completely awake.
    The string of announcements in the last couple of months and the actual arrival of these products should silence all of those who think Ballmer should be replaced. As far as Google's single revenue stream. That was the reason I never bought their shares.
    Not charging money for Android is fine, if you were going to make that money by creating a great app store, but they screwed that up too. Until recently I worked in the online advertising business. it's crap. there's no real money there and it doesn't really work (not that TV ads are better)
    If someone comes up with a better solution to market products to end users, and Google doesn't buy them, they'll be dead.
  • I have Hotmail Plus and upgraded my account to and I still don't see any ads. Nice!
  • I don't have Hotmail Plus and don't see any ads when using I didn't even know there were supposed to be any ads.
  • Same. I only see 'ads' for new outlook features to try :P
  • I'm seeing bing shopping and deal ads. It's not standard banner ads or text ads and it's not relevant to the content of emails
  • i may just redo my phone just so i can change the account to because i honestly dont like how hotmail sounds.
  • Because you say it out loud all the time? :P You can grab an alias instead and still give that out to people as your email.
  • i just changed it and kept my hotmail as the alias :D
  • Yeah I know it was only a joke but they are giving the nexus q away for free....
    Is Microsoft going to give us early adopters anything towards our next wp8 device?
  • Difference is people actually want Windows Phone 8, no one wants a Q. And if you're going to take money for a pre-order it's the least you can do instead of cancelling their product. (Mind you, preorders are getting the "it's too crappy to sell" version, not the "it's improved!" one).
  • I know it is two different circumstances but I was trying to make a point that google is trying to keep its customers happy. Microsoft could learn a thing or two in that department.
  • I'd say Windows Phone 7.8 IS that effort. Clearly they weren't going to even do that as it was planned so late. Ultimately, it's the OEMs and carriers who sold you a phone, not Microsoft.
  • for me personally microsoft does a great job keeping me happy. i only wish they had a zune video pass and then my true happiness would shine just imagine 15 bucks a month for whatever movie is on their catalogue. Epic would be the only way to describe it.
  • GENIUS!!!! +1
  • GOOD LORD that would be amazing! I've been waiting for a Zune video pass since forever. I don't know how they could get away with it at only $15.
  • even if it were 20 it would be worth it rival netflix with better catalogue
  • Netflix is paying a lot of money to get licensing rights.
    I'm not sure about the Amazon Prime costs (I have Prime, not sure how many people actually use it for the free streaming)
    Amazon does have the itunes/zune model as well, so I guess their licensing deal is more complicated.
    This will be more about the XBOX.
    They want it to be the entertainment center for your living room.
    They keep demoing music and video services. they're bringing live TV channels to it.
    The question is, are they happy with having 3rd party subscription apps like netflix and prime(maybe if it's ingrated into the voice activated bing search) Netflix is 8$/month. Amazon Prime is 80$/year. If I could pay 20$/month to Zune and get the music pass I have now and a video pass for most of the content, that would be great.  
  • i personally think that the zunes video catalogue is much better than netflix i just hate paying thousands of ms points to rent it for a day. like i said i would pay the zune video pass 20 dollars alone if theres at least 30% more content to watch than on netflix. netflix is tired and boring and zune video or xbox videos whatever it would be called would be a huge step in the right direction of bringing premium content to their device. :D
    obviously if they want they can and should keep netflix amazon and hulu an option but it never hurts to optimize your own offerings in that department.
  • Well I use the Windows 8 tablet they gave me at Build last year every day, and my wife still uses the Windows Phone they gave away the year before.
  • I wonder what they'll give away this year (with the Surface RT released a few days before, WP8 devices released around the same time and lots of other tablets as well). As a dev, I could really use both WP8 and Win8 ;-)
  • I don't care much about ads. The problem is that I can't rename my email now. It returns this error: There's a temporary problem with the service. Please try again. If you continue to get this message, try again later.
  • It's really wonderful to see Microsoft reinventing itself this way. Ballmer and his staff have obviously been learning from Apple and Google. That's a Good Thing in my book.
  • Then please bring this mentality to the Xbox.
  • what ads on the xbox is so troublesome?  The bottom right tile that shows an ad?
  • That's one of the complaints I don't get. The supposed obnoxious ads on the Xbox Live. Its like one little square on the lower right hand corner. The rest of the boxes (or tiles) are for services and products on Xbox Live.
  • Exactly, that is what confuses me as well.  You see a video go on the bottom right, but there is no sound unless you put the cursor over on that tile.  Again, the tile is small as well. 
    Everything else is xbox related like playing your game, looking at your current games, your apps, new releases, discounts on games, new DLC which again, are all xbox related. 
    Anybody that has an xbox would know, not sure what other ads there are and considering i play my xbox almost every day, i know that i am not bombarded with ads like people are implying. 
  • Its just haters parroting other haters....nothing more
  • It's the same as those complaining about the 'lack' of a start meny in win8
    some people always have to complain, it doesn't matter what you do, they'll find something
  • So I'm guessing you guys would't complain if the W8 and WP8 start screens had ads. Also, what's wrong with you people? If I complain about certain things I'm a hater? You act just like those Apple fanboys. I've been running W8 as my primary OS since february and I love it, but that doesn't mean everything is perfect and can't be improved. Fanboys are fanboys I guess, accepting everything and adding nothing to the table. The Xbox UI is not a free app, I bought it, and I also pay for Xbox Live, there should not be any ads. Also, no, I do not miss the start button in W8. Writing from my Lumia.
  • :( I like some of the ads on the Xbox i.e. The old spice ads I think are hilarious.
  • Winning!!!!!!
  • as a plus subscriber i hope that it carries through in some way... well, for ine, if a plus subscriber messenger should nit have ads either but with the new metro and web messenger i think the 'live' one will loose traction soon
  • move your right ring finger a little bit to the right :P
  • For the record I blocked;, & at DNS level and I don't see any Microsoft adverts on XBL & Messenger...Adblock does the rest.
    I understand that Adverts generate revenue for free services but tbh I don't click on adverts and I have never been influenced by an advert I I see they just annoy me lol.
  • Actually they are content based adds off of the subject lines In your emails... they dont read the body of your emails.......
  • I'm really liking everything Microsoft recently. I'm happy with outlook too. Except, I haven't found an answer to syncing gmail contacts. I can sync them but only 1 email address per person shows in the People Hub. Some contacts have multiple emails (lets say 3), but only 1 shows in the hub. Is this a limit or does anyone have a method around this?
  • I do & you're gunna love this...
    Go to G-Mail navigate to export...choose Outlook CSV as the format then select export then save it somewhere easy to get to like the desktop.
    Now load out Hotmail (or if you're awesome)
    Hotmail method...
    Log in, highlight "hotmail" and select contacts, click "Manage" then select Outlook...choose the CSV file from your desired location (hopfully the desktop like I told you to) via browse, then click import contacts...sorted =D Outlook Method...
    Login...Click the arrow next to Outlook and select people, click on import contacts, choose the CSV file from your desired location (hopfully the desktop like I told you to) via browse, then click import contacts...sorted =D
    Now just forward your g-mail e-mails to your Windows Live account and you can delete g-mail =P
    I have now made your life better lol.
  • Hi pepsijosh thanks a lot. In fact I know the CSV method but i haven't had a good experience on it in the past with duplicates, so I was hoping they syncing will do all the work. So that I will be sure when I update my contacts in gmail they will all sync to outlook.........for now, because I have too many things linked to gmail. Thanks though I may just use the CSV now to import them all first. The weird thing is it shows in my Windows Phone Peoples hub seamlessly with no lag even. Just not Thanks again.
  • Yeah I had a duplicate problem when I migrated my contacts from a Personal Outlook account to my Hotmail account (which had like over 600 contacts on WLM from when I was a teen) it consolidated most but just went though & deleted the rest.
    I look back to when I wasted hours doing that and think I should have just wiped all contacts off then imported the CSV but oh well it's all in the past now =P
  • Well...I got that done. All nice and clean now. Thanks. Now another problem aroused can you make my life easier with this too. XD After organizing everything in the People Hub on like Linking duplicates from Facebook and Gmail, the Links are not updated on my WP. Both use the same outllook ID and should be connected. I also created Groups with outlook but it does not show up on my WP as well. Basically my WP doesn't update the info i changed on outlook.  Am I suppose to be waiting longer or is this not supported yet? I think adding and deleting contacts will update. just not linking or creating groups. Thanks :p ps- I've been searching around with no success...How does everybody get it going so smoothly..
  • Yeah, not all information that is in a contact card is visable in the people hub on the phone but it is there.
    For example I have an Outlook contact's phone number listed as "assistant" the phone doesn't regognize this as a catagory, so it doesn't apper in the people hub; however if that contact calls me or if I dial the number in full, it will show the contact name with assistant next to the number in the call history.
    So in answer to your question only information you can put in the device will apper in the people hub (ie when you create a new contact or edit an existing one) hopfully "custom name fields" or more catagories will be somthing that will be later implimented later =D
  • I was only linking two of the same contacts from different services though (fb + gmail) so 2 of those same contacts appear as 1 name.  ie: (er...John.N from FB  + John.N from Gmail) . I linked them so it appears as 1 John.N in the people hub. I believe this shouldn't be a problem updating on the WP. Same said for adding Groups too. I don't see a reason why it wouldn't update......but be fair outlook is still "preview" mode.  Thanks though. 
  • Oh right lol.
    Yeah the connections thing is a pain, the device doesn't sync that information to Outlook (Windows Live), you have to link them on the device manually...I at first assumed that it would have done this aswell but when I upgraded from my HTC Surround to the Nokia Lumia 800 (It's more of a downgrade really but thats a differnt story lol) I had to link contacts again (manily people that dont use their real name on Social Networks)
    I hope Windows Phone 8 will have a better intergration to Windows 8 and Outlook it all sounds like it will since it is calling it people =P
  • When I went to the people page in the new I was offered the option to connect with Google. just like other services. It then shows the gmail contacts in your outlook account. (of course, these contacts would then stay in google and should probably get synced once in a while)
  • Stylish ftw. I never see any ads.
  • Okay I got an alias address.  Heres my question. I hope that someone cangive me an answer.  I have been using outlook the calendar email contacts program for a very long time.  When the hotmail/.live calendar came into use on the phone  I got a hotmail calendar open in outlook thrlough the hotmail connector for outlook.  Will there be a similar connector app to get the new  into outlook calendar in office 7 10 13 etc?  Or will I need to just go with the calendar as thats replacing the outlook program?  Thanks in advance
  • I would have thought you can just use Activesync these days?
    (Which is built into Outlook)
    Try this:
    Its for Office 365, but its still - so might work.
  • On ZDNet:
    What are the settings for using Outlook (the program) with an email address?
    For Outlook 2013, Exchange ActiveSync support is built in. Just enter the email address and password and it should configure automatically. For Outlook 2010, Outlook 2007, and Outlook 2003, you still need to use the free Outlook Hotmail Connector add-in.
    Activesync is the future (Its what we have on our Windows Phones and IOS devices)
    It is by far the best protocol for syncing email. (IMAP is an awful mess, and implemented so poorly in most programs)
  • I think you have confused yourself =P
    Windows Live/Hotmail =
    I doubt they will use a connecter app as Windows Live has used ActiveSync since Windows Phone 7 (2010) which would rule out the use of a "connector app" as it will be able to process normally; I have Windows 8 and Hotmail's e-mail, calender & People Hub is integrated into the OS
    However if you want to remain old fashoned; As for Outlook 2013 I was able to login to this with my Hotmail account without any issues (displays contacts & calenders) but don't take my word for it try it yourself
  • Just a question I have changed to outlook and did a hard reset on my phone forgot I wanted to change password as well so if I change it now do I have to hard reset again? btw outlook rocks just love it
  • You don't have to do another hard reset. The phone will ask for you to retype your password.
  • Thanks Exyaster
  • I don't see any ads even on main inbox view...