Microsoft Offers Privacy Guidelines For Developers

In offering the nearly 50-page document for download, Microsoft said it was responding to requests from customers, partners, software vendors, educators, advocates and regulators.

"By documenting our principles, we hope to help anyone building products and services to meet customer expectations and deliver a more trustworthy experience," the company said.

Microsoft said customers' trust is waning with the Internet and e-commerce because they are feeling less able to control access to their personal information. The company would like to see the industry build a common set of privacy best practices to increase customer trust.

The Microsoft document offers guidelines for nine scenarios that include the handling of information that can identify a person, installing software on a customer's computer, deploying a Web site, storing and processing user data, deploying a server, and interacting with children.

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Microsoft has been criticized in the past for practices that advocates said violated customers' privacy. In June, the company modified its anti-piracy tool called Windows Genuine Advantage, after the software came under fire for sending information back to Microsoft each time a PC connected to the Internet. Critics said the software maker failed to clearly explain the tool's functions.