Privacy advocates fear that some of Microsoft's new products and services will give the company the ability to harvest an unprecedented quantity of private data about its customers. A few key areas:
Microsoft's (MSFT) new HailStorm service will help manage people's calendars. A record of that 3 p.m. flight to Pittsburgh will be stored on a Microsoft server--as will the regular Friday session with a therapist.
The new Passport service is a digital wallet, which includes people's addresses and credit card numbers. It's designed to streamline shopping online, but it could eventually allow the company to make a detailed profile of people's buying habits.
A new operating system feature called Smart Tags places a hyperlink on certain words, whether they're on a personal document or a Web page. Windows will keep a record of which links you click on, in effect, a personal profile. Initially, this data will stay on your hard drive. But critics worry it's likely to migrate to a Microsoft server.