It seems the most intense competition between Microsoft and Apple is who can take a harder shot at Google. Well, score one for Microsoft. It's backing a bill in Massachusetts that would effectively force schools to stop using Google cloud services.
The proposed legislation blocks any cloud service provider from using personal data of children in public schools for any commercial purpose. It was introduced by state representative Carlo Basile (D-East Boston), and Microsoft has said it is supporting it, using the old canard of wanting to protect children from harm. Blocking Google and other providers that use an ad-funded service model is just a side benefit, it seems.
The bill states, in part, "Any person who provides a cloud computing service to an educational institution operating within the State shall process data of a student enrolled in kindergarten through twelfth grade for the sole purpose of providing the cloud computing service to the educational institution and shall not process such data for any commercial purpose, including but not limited to advertising purposes that benefit the cloud computing service provider."
You'd think Microsoft would be quiet about its involvement, but apparently not. Cameron Evans, chief technology officer of U.S. education at Microsoft, came right out and advocated for the law in a blog post on Wednesday:
"Schools must ensure that they place appropriate limits on data collection and use best practices for cloud service providers … Protecting the privacy of our students is common sense and shouldn't be sold to the highest bidder. Student privacy should not be for sale. Period."
It all ties into an anti-Google campaign Microsoft has been running, along with the "Scroogled" ads in which Microsoft pushes the notion that Google scans emails for keywords to target customers with ads.
It might also be payback for what Google pulled off in Europe. Thanks to a single line of code error, Microsoft sold Windows 7 for almost a year without the browser choice program popping up to ask users what browser they would like to use. It was Google that ratted out Microsoft to the EU and Microsoft was hit with a $731 million fine all for an error no one noticed for a year over a choice of free software.
Something tells me someone at Microsoft is going to get a 5 on his stack ranking.
Microsoft knows the value of getting users locked in young. Bill Gates just recently spoke of the value of technology in education. It's seen Apple grab a huge mindshare of college students through its college program. The last thing it wants is kids knowing Google cloud services from the moment they start school. And it has a program to sell: Office 365.
I warned of this a few months ago. Companies that went crying to the government because Microsoft was playing dirty are now going to get hoisted by their own petard. I'm sure Microsoft is buying up many more legislators around the country for this same strategy in other big states.