Ballmer: You can trust Microsoft with your privacy

Gates: No midnight launch for my kids - it's a school night!

1
"Trust us..."

Steve Ballmer, in his last shareholder meeting as Microsoft CEO, gave a rousing response to concerns about his company's devices - its phones, tablets, computers, consoles and Kinects - invading people's privacy.

Fears that a more capable Kinect camera would snoop on Xbox One owners, gathering personal data, have been rife ever since the console was announced.

"We are very focused on the issues with respect to government intelligence gathering, whether it's this government in the United States or governments around the world," Ballmer said (transcript on Seeking Alpha).

"We all want to live in a country and a world that's safe and secure, but it is a business imperative that we retain the customers' trust in every country around the world.

3
"Trust us..."

"Hence, we have sued our own government so we can publish more information, share more about what kinds of processes we do have. And we are focused on engineering improvements that will further strengthen security, including strengthening security against snooping by governments."

The second part of the answer concerned how companies behave.

"We take a lot of pride at Microsoft about the care we take to respect the privacy concerns of our customers," Ballmer said. "Across our industry there are some [who] seem rather bent on trying to use every single piece of personal information they can get so they can target you with more ads.

"And there are a lot of things we don't do. We have said we don't read your email so we can send you ads; we don't scan your files on SkyDrive and use that to target ads; and you are going to see from Microsoft what we all hope will be a continued commitment and a strong track record that makes clear to consumers that if they want to look for a single provider with whom they can trust their most personal information, they can look to us and they can trust us."

2
"Trust us..."

That, executive vice president Brad Smith added, "absolutely includes the cloud". "We are committed to ensuring that people will have as much confidence putting their information in the cloud in the future as they do putting it on a computer, on their desktop or in a paper file in their desk drawer. That is an imperative for our success."

Excitement was high during the meeting for the impending launch of Xbox One, but Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said he wouldn't be letting his cheeky little children attend tomorrow night's midnight festivities - it's a school night!

"I have told my kids though that it's a school night, so even though in the past, Paul [Allen, co-founder of Microsoft] and I used to sneak out after midnight and use computers, I don't want to see that happening, so my kids will be asleep that night."

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"You do?!"

Gates went on to thank Ballmer for his 13-year tenure as CEO of Microsoft - a position only Ballmer and Gates have ever held. "And that alone makes us quite unusual," Gates remarked.

Ballmer wrapped up his final shareholder meeting as CEO by saying, "There is no question for me that when we look back 10 years from now, we are going to say, 'Wow, I can't believe how primitive technology was. Wow, I can't believe how great a company Microsoft has become in running global cloud services and delivering the next generation of innovative hardware devices and experiences.' And we will look back and say 'hey, weren't we a small company back there in 2013'."

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About the author

Robert Purchese

Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer  |  Clert

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.

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