Microsoft Quietly Shutters Vista Giveaway

Originally slated to run until the end of the year, the giveaway was part of the Windows Feedback Program, which Microsoft says is aimed at improving the Windows user experience.

Microsoft couldn't be reached for comment on why the software giveaway was discontinued.

In the program, users provide feedback through online surveys and by installing software that automatically collects data on program usage and system configuration each day for a three month period and sends it to Microsoft.

In addition to Vista and Office, Microsoft was giving away copies of Money Plus Premium, Student with Encarta Premium 2008, and Streets and Trips 2008.

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In the program description, Microsoft says it has "gone to great lengths" to minimize the impact of the Windows Feedback Program software on PC performance, but notes that users "may see a minor change in performance" for a few minutes after they log into Windows, during which time the software collects basic configuration information.

But that assurance may not be enough to convince Microsoft customers who've been burned by some of the vendor's other automated services.

In October, several Microsoft customers and partners said their machines running Windows Server Update Service (WSUS) were downloading and installing an update package for Windows Desktop Search (WDS) and subsequently rebooting, even when users hadn't chosen the automatic update setting.