Collection of Your Personal Information
In order to access some Microsoft services, you will be asked to sign in with an e-mail address and password, which we refer to as your credentials. In most cases, these credentials will be part of the Microsoft Passport Network, which means you can use the same credentials to sign in to many different Microsoft sites and services, as well as those of select Microsoft partners. By signing in on one Microsoft site or service, you may be automatically signed into other Microsoft sites and services. If you access our services via a mobile phone, you may also use your telephone number and a PIN as an alternative credential to your username and password. As part of creating your credentials, you may also be requested to provide questions and secret answers, which we use to help verify your identity and assist in resetting your password, as well as an alternate email address. Some services may require added security, and in these cases, you may be asked to create an additional security key. Finally, a unique ID number will be assigned to your credentials which will be used to identify your credentials and associated information.
At some Microsoft sites, we ask you to provide personal information, such as your e-mail address, name, home or work address or telephone number. We may also collect demographic information, such as your ZIP code, age, gender, preferences, interests and favorites. If you choose to make a purchase or sign up for a paid subscription service, we will ask for additional information, such as your credit card number and billing address, that is used to create a Microsoft billing account.
We may collect information about your visit, including the pages you view, the links you click and other actions taken in connection with Microsoft sites and services. We also collect certain standard information that your browser sends to every website you visit, such as your IP address, browser type and language, access times and referring website addresses.
When you receive newsletters or promotional e-mail from Microsoft, we may use web beacons (described below), customized links or similar technologies to determine whether the e-mail has been opened and which links you click in order to provide you more focused e-mail communications or other information.
In order to offer you a more consistent and personalized experience in your interactions with Microsoft, information collected through one Microsoft service may be combined with information obtained through other Microsoft services. We may also supplement the information we collect with information obtained from other companies. For example, we may use services from other companies that enable us to derive a general geographic area based on your IP address in order to customize certain services to your geographic area.
Use of Your Personal Information
Microsoft collects and uses your personal information to operate and improve its sites and deliver the services or carry out the transactions you have requested. These uses may include providing you with more effective customer service; making the sites or services easier to use by eliminating the need for you to repeatedly enter the same information; performing research and analysis aimed at improving our products, services and technologies; and displaying content and advertising that are customized to your interests and preferences.
We also use your personal information to communicate with you. We may send certain mandatory service communications such as welcome letters, billing reminders, information on technical service issues, and security announcements. Some Microsoft services, such as MSN Hotmail, may send periodic member letters that are considered part of the service. We may also occasionally send you product surveys or promotional mailings to inform you of other products or services available from Microsoft and its affiliates.
Personal information collected on Microsoft sites and services may be stored and processed in the United States or any other country in which Microsoft or its affiliates, subsidiaries or agents maintain facilities, and by using a Microsoft site or service, you consent to any such transfer of information outside of your country. Microsoft abides by the safe harbor framework as set forth by the U.S. Department of Commerce regarding the collection, use, and retention of data from the European Union.