Last updated: June 2007
This privacy statement applies to Windows Media Player 11 for Windows Vista and Windows Media Player 11 for Windows Server 2008.
At Microsoft, we're working hard to help protect your privacy, while delivering software that brings you the performance, power, and convenience you desire in your personal computing. This privacy statement explains many of the data collection and use practices of Windows Media Player 11 for Windows Vista and Windows Media Player 11 for Windows Server 2008 ("Windows Media Player"). This disclosure focuses on features that communicate with the Internet, and is not intended to be an exhaustive list. It does not apply to other online or offline Microsoft websites, products, or services.
Windows Media Player enables you to access and enjoy music and video from the Internet, both on your personal computer and on a wide variety of portable media players. Windows Media Player provides easy access to features provided by Internet-based online stores, many of which are provided by non-Microsoft companies. This privacy statement describes how Windows Media Player interacts with these online stores.
An online store provides custom features that extend Windows Media Player. These features are provided by software installed on your computer by your online store. In addition to its role in the individual features described below, the online store's software may run whenever you play, transfer, or burn content from that store, whenever you connect to or sync to a portable device, and any time that Windows Media Player is idle. At these times, your online store's software may ask you for information or may collect information automatically from your computer, such as the identity of the music you are currently playing. The use of this information will be subject to the online store's privacy practices.
To help you make an informed choice right from the start, the first time you launch Windows Media Player you will be asked to set some important privacy options. To access those options later, in Windows Media Player, on the Tools menu, select Options, and then click the Privacy tab. To learn more about this per user "first run" privacy experience, please see the "Which settings affect privacy in Windows Media Player" section in Windows Media Player Help.
Windows Media Player does not request contact information such as your name, address, or phone number. However, there are occasions when Windows Media Player transmits unique, computer-specific information across the Internet, either to Microsoft or to an online store. Features that do this are described in this privacy statement. In addition, the software provided by an online store may collect and transmit personal information to that store; this would be described in the privacy statement for the online store.
The following topics are covered in this privacy statement:
The privacy details discussed below disclose what information is collected and how it is used by Microsoft. Windows Media Player contains Internet-enabled features that automatically collect certain standard information from your computer ("standard computer information") along with information needed for a specific feature and send it to Microsoft or to an online store operated by a non-Microsoft company. Standard computer information includes information such as your IP address, operating system version, Windows Media Player version, a code that identifies the manufacturer of your computer, and your regional and language settings. In a few specific cases described below, standard troubleshooting data is also sent to help Microsoft identify recurring problems. Standard troubleshooting data includes information such as your time-zone and language settings, Windows Media Player and DRM version, the proxy configuration setting, a randomly generated session ID, and information about the last error code. Communications with non-Microsoft or Microsoft Internet services may include a cookie that is unique to your computer.
Feature-specific information is discussed in more detail in the sections below.
Information that is sent to Microsoft will be used to provide the feature or service you have requested. Microsoft may track this information for statistical purposes. Except as described in this statement, information you provide will not be transferred to non-Microsoft companies without your consent. We occasionally hire other companies to provide limited services on our behalf, such as packaging, sending and delivering purchases and other mailings, answering customer questions about software or services, processing event registration, or performing statistical analysis of our services. We will only provide those companies the information they need to deliver the service, and they are prohibited from using that information for any other purpose. Information that is collected by or sent to Microsoft may be stored and processed in the United States or any other country/region in which Microsoft or its affiliates, subsidiaries, or agents maintain facilities.
If you do not want Windows Media Player to access the Internet, do the following:
Click the File menu, and then click Work Offline.
A number of features of Windows Media Player are unavailable when working offline, such as the online stores, playback of streaming media, and gathering related media information for your content. The Work Offline setting affects Internet Explorer and will therefore affect other software that may be using Internet Explorer to access the Internet.
You have the ability to accept or decline cookies. Most web browsers automatically accept cookies, but you can usually modify your browser setting to decline cookies if you prefer. If you choose to decline cookies, you may not be able to fully experience the interactive features of the associated website or other websites you visit.
WindowsMedia.com is a website operated by Microsoft. A cookie will be sent to WindowsMedia.com whenever Windows Media Player communicates with a server at WindowsMedia.com (for example when Windows Media Player requests supplemental CD or DVD information). The cookie allows WindowsMedia.com to personalize your WindowsMedia.com experience. The cookie also contains a unique identifier that allows WindowsMedia.com to generate anonymous visitor statistics. This identifier is not the same as the Player ID described in the Communication with Streaming Media Servers section and does not contain any personally identifiable information. For more information about this cookie, please see the WindowsMedia.com privacy statement.
Online stores may place cookies on your computer. If the online store you are using is provided by a non-Microsoft company, the use of this cookie will be subject to that company's privacy practices.
Streaming media servers you connect with may also establish cookies on your computer. What data is stored in these cookies and how that data is used is determined by the content provider. Please contact the content provider for further information regarding these cookies.
It is possible to block the creation and transfer of cookies by using Internet Explorer. If you decide to block one or more cookies, the websites that use them may not function correctly.
To prevent all cookies from being stored on your computer
In Internet Explorer, click the Tools menu, click Internet Options, and then click the Privacy tab.
Move the slider up to Block All Cookies. On this setting, websites will not be able to store cookies on your computer.
Blocking all cookies is an extreme action to take. The next two Internet Explorer privacy levels, High and Medium High, may be more suitable. In addition, it is possible to block a cookie for a specific site via the Internet Explorer Privacy tab. Please see Internet Explorer Help for more information.
To access the Internet Explorer Privacy tab directly from Windows Media Player
Click the arrow below the Now Playing tab, and then click More Options.
Click the Privacy tab, and then click Cookies.
Windows Media Player allows you to select your online store from a list of available stores. In some cases, Windows Media Player will have been installed with an online store already selected for you, but you are free to select a different online store at any time. When you select an online store, you will get access to new features that may enhance your playback experience. These features may include more information about the content you're playing or viewing and opportunities to purchase music and/or other content. Unless you are working offline, some of the features of Windows Media Player will communicate with your current online store, as described below. See "What happens when there are no online stores" for additional information on the behavior of Windows Media Player if you are in a locale in which there are no online stores.
Windows Media Player features are accessed through a set of tabs in the Windows Media Player display. These include the Now Playing, Library, Rip, Burn, Sync, and Online Stores tabs. When you select one of these tabs, information may be sent to your online store or to Microsoft, as described in detail below.
Whenever Windows Media Player starts up, a message is sent to WindowsMedia.com to obtain the current list of online stores available in your locale. This startup message contains the standard computer information described earlier.
You can use the drop-down arrow on the Online Stores tab to select a new online store. When you select an online store, a message is sent to a server at the company that operates the online store in order to determine which stores it offers. This message contains standard computer information. Windows Media Player uses the information that is returned to customize the Online Stores tab that is displayed in Windows Media Player.
Not all online stores provide the same features. For example, online music stores have different functionality than other online stores. If your active online store is not a music store and Windows Media Player needs to access an online music store for a particular feature (such as displaying additional information about a CD that you are playing), it will access the last online music store you used.
If you click a store that is displayed on the Online Stores tab, a request containing standard computer information will be sent to a server at the company that operates that online store. The resulting information will be displayed in the Online Stores tab. If your online store requests any data from you or collects any additional information automatically during this process, this data will be subject to the online store's privacy practices.
If you are playing music, you may choose to enable the Info Center View, which is off by default. When you enable the Info Center View, and whenever you select the Now Playing tab with Info Center View enabled, an information request will be sent to your online store. This request will contain standard computer information and information about the currently playing song. The resulting information from your online store will be displayed in the Now Playing tab. If your online store requests any data from you or collects any additional information automatically during this process, this data will be subject to the online store's privacy practices.
If you have not enabled the Info Center View, the Now Playing tab will display visualizations or a blank window.
Menu items within the Now Playing tab and in the main Player menu allow you to download new visualizations, plug-ins, device drivers, and skins for Windows Media Player. If you select these menu items, a webpage request is sent to a server at WindowsMedia.com. This request contains standard computer information. The resulting webpage, which provides instructions on downloading the desired components, will be displayed in a new window by your default browser. For additional information, see the WindowsMedia.com privacy statement.
If you select the Buy menu item on the Now Playing tab, a request containing standard computer information and an ID identifying the selected CD will be sent to a server at your online music store. The resulting information will be displayed in the music tab for your online store. If your online store requests any data from you or collects any additional information automatically during this process, this data will be subject to the online store's privacy practices.
You can use the Find Album Info right-click menu item for any selected album or track on the Library or Rip tabs to request additional album information. By default, the information request is sent to your online music store. However, if you are in a locale with no online music stores, Windows Media Player sends the request to WindowsMedia.com. This request contains standard computer information plus information on the currently playing selection. The resulting information page will be displayed in a new Windows Media Player window. For additional information on its privacy practices, see the WindowsMedia.com privacy statement.
If you click the Edit button in a Find Album Info display, or select the Edit right-click menu item for any selected album or track, Windows Media Player will allow you to edit the album or track information that is maintained in your library. If the Update music files by retrieving media info from the Internet option is set and you are online, Windows Media Player will periodically contact WindowsMedia.com in order to update the information in your library for tracks with only partially complete information. When this occurs, Windows Media Player will send all the information it has in your library about such a track so that WindowsMedia.com can recognize the track and return any additional information that is available. Any information that you have changed or added to your library about tracks or albums will be sent to WindowsMedia.com and will be stored there and made available to other users requesting information for the same track or album. Consequently, you should not make any changes that you would not want other users to see.
Updating the Library feature is explained more fully in Enhanced Playback of Digital Music Files below.
The Buy, Info Center, More Info, and Find Album Info features all send information requests to your online music store. If you are in a locale with no online stores, these features will send webpage requests to WindowsMedia.com. For additional information on its privacy practices, see the WindowsMedia.com privacy statement.
Several of the selections in the Windows Media Player Help menu send webpage or information requests to Microsoft. These requests contain standard computer information.
Windows Media Player Online. Opens your default browser to a web-based Help page at Microsoft.com.
Check for Player Updates. Launches the Windows Media Player installer, which sends an information request to a Microsoft website for updates. This request contains standard computer information including the version of your current Windows Media Player. If an update is found, you will be prompted that an update is available and, if you consent, the new software will be downloaded from Microsoft and installed on your computer.
View Privacy Statement. Opens your default browser to the Microsoft.com webpage containing this privacy statement.
Troubleshooting. Opens your default browser to a troubleshooting webpage at Microsoft.com.
Windows Media Player lets you share files in your library with other users on your home network and to browse the files that are in libraries that other users on your network are sharing. Before you turn on sharing, you may wish to verify that your network is secure. For information about securing your network, see Windows Help and Support.
Media sharing is turned off by default. To turn it on, do the following:
Click the arrow below the Library tab, and then click Media Sharing.
In the Media Sharing dialog box, select the Share my media check box.
To browse libraries that are on computers on your network, select the Find media that others are sharing check box.
In the list of devices below the Share my media to check box, select a device.
To share your media with the computer or device you have selected, click Allow.
The current status of sharing is displayed at the bottom of the Media Sharing dialog box. If sharing is turned on and you want to turn it off, clear the Share my media to check box.
Windows Media Player allows you to play back content that is streamed to you over a network. To provide this service, it is necessary for Windows Media Player to communicate with a streaming media server. These servers are typically operated by non-Microsoft content providers, and are not under Microsoft's control.
During playback of streaming media, Windows Media Player will send a log to the streaming media server or other web server(s) if the streaming media server requests it. Typically, content providers generate statistics from the logs to help them improve the quality of their service. Other uses include billing and advertisement tracking. The content provider may instruct Windows Media Player to simultaneously forward the log to additional sites. It is the responsibility of the content provider to disclose to you whether the logs are shared with non-Microsoft companies and how the logs are used.
The log includes such details as: connection time, IP address, operating system version, Windows Media Player version, Player identification number (Player ID), date, protocol, and so on. The purpose of the Player ID is to allow content providers to identify your connection. If a unique Player ID is sent, content providers will have the ability to correlate the information in your logs over multiple sessions. To protect your privacy, by default Windows Media Player will send an anonymous Player ID, which comprises two components: a well known static value and a randomly generated number that changes each time you request content from a streaming media server.
Some content providers may require you to send them a unique Player ID in order to access their content or services. To send a unique Player ID, do the following:
Click the arrow below the Now Playing tab, and then click More Options.
Click the Privacy tab, and then select the Send unique Player ID to content providers check box.
To enrich your experience when playing CDs and DVDs or ripping CDs, Windows Media Player can download and display related media information about your content, such as the album title, album art, song title, DVD title, artist, composer, and other information. When you insert a CD or DVD, Windows Media Player displays related media information that is stored in your library. If it finds none, it sends an information request to WindowsMedia.com. This request contains standard computer information and an identifier for the CD or DVD. Windows Media Player will store the resulting information in your library for future use. This information can be displayed even when you are offline. Related media information may not be available in your local language.
In some cases, WindowsMedia.com may request additional media identifiers for CDs to help ensure the quality of the media information that is returned to your library. If this occurs, Windows Media Player will send an ID generated by your computer for the particular CD back to WindowsMedia.com.
To prevent Windows Media Player from requesting related media information for CDs and DVDs from WindowsMedia.com, and to prevent your Windows Media Audio files that have been copied from CDs from being updated, do the following:
Click the Privacy tab, and then clear the Update music files by retrieving media info from the Internet check box.
This setting does not affect your online music store.
To remove the related media information stored in your library
Click the Privacy tab, and then click Clear Caches.
Like the enhanced playback of CDs and DVDs described above, Windows Media Player can download and display related media information for digital music files (for example, WMA and MP3 files) that you are playing on your computer. Before accessing the Internet, Windows Media Player first checks if the related media information is already stored in your library or in the digital media file itself. If related information is in either of these places, the stored information is displayed.
If the related media information is not already stored in your library or in the file, Windows Media Player sends an information request to WindowsMedia.com in an attempt to identify the file's content. This request contains standard computer information plus information about the digital music file. If related media information is found for the content, it will be downloaded to your computer and stored in your library. Storing the information in your library allows it to be displayed even when you are offline.
The digital media file itself may also be updated with missing related media information. For example, if your digital music file has the artist name, but not the album name, Windows Media Player will add the album name to the file. Windows Media Player will also add album art, if it is available, to the appropriate music folder. Related media information may not be available in your local language.
Retrieving and updating related media information will also occur when:
Using the library for the first time after updating Windows Media Player
Adding files to your library by searching your computer
Adding files to monitored folders, such as My Music
Selecting the Apply Media Information Changes menu item from the Windows Media Player Tools menu.
To prevent Windows Media Player from retrieving related media information from WindowsMedia.com and updating your digital music files, do the following:
Windows Media Player supports other options that control the updating and overwriting of related media information. For more information, do the following:
Click the arrow below the Library tab, and then click More Options.
Examine the options for automatically updating the media information for files.
Windows Media Player uses Microsoft Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology to preserve the rights of content owners who protect their music or video products in this manner. You must have the media usage rights required to play, burn, or sync protected content.
If you acquire protected content from a music or video store, you may receive the associated usage rights at the same time. If not, when Windows Media Player tries to use a protected file that is missing rights, Windows Media Player will attempt to acquire the rights for you. This can be done through your online store, or directly from a server on the Internet.
If there is an online store associated with the protected file, software installed on your computer by the online store may obtain the usage rights before you play the content. If this software requests any data from you or collects any additional information automatically, this data will be subject to the online store's privacy practices.
If the online store did not supply the usage rights, or if the protected content is not associated with any of your online stores, Windows Media Player will request rights directly from a rights server on the Internet. The server's web address is specified in the protected file; most rights servers are operated by companies other than Microsoft. When requesting rights, Windows Media Player will provide the rights server with standard computer information, an ID for the music or video file, the action you have requested (such as play or burn), information about the DRM components on your computer such as their revision and security levels, and a unique identifier for your computer. The unique identifier is used only to generate the rights for your computer and, because it is enclosed in an encrypted license request, is not available to the rights server in a way that uniquely identifies you or your computer.
By default, Windows Media Player will automatically attempt to acquire usage rights silently unless the server requires some input from you (such as registration information or a fee). You can turn off automatic rights acquisition. If you do so, you will be prompted to obtain rights for any new content that requires them. To prevent Windows Media Player from acquiring rights automatically, do the following:
Click the Privacy tab, and then clear the Automatically check if protected files need to be refreshed check box.
Please note that this setting does not affect usage rights acquisition from online stores.
If you subscribe to a music or video subscription service through an online store, Windows Media Player automatically scans your library for media usage rights that have expired or are about to expire and then requests updated media usage rights from a rights server on the Internet. If you are signed in with your online store you will not be prompted before Windows Media Player sends the request to the rights server. This helps to ensure that you have a seamless playback experience. When requesting media usage rights, Windows Media Player will provide the rights server with standard computer information, an ID for the music or video file, the action you have requested (such as play or sync), information about the digital rights management (DRM) components on your computer such as their revision and security levels, and a unique identifier for your computer. The unique identifier is used only to generate rights for your computer and, because it is enclosed in an encrypted request, is not available to the rights server in a way that uniquely identifies you or your computer.
You can prevent Windows Media Player from scanning your library and from attempting to update the media usage rights by doing the following:
Microsoft also provides a service that lets you move media usage rights for files that were copy-protected when they were ripped (or copied) to a computer. If you try to play these files on a different computer, Windows Media Player will open your default browser and send a webpage request to a migration server at Microsoft. The request will contain standard computer information, a unique ID for the computer that originally protected this content, plus information that identifies your new computer. Unless the migration limit has been reached, new rights will be returned that enable use of the content on your new computer. Microsoft keeps track of the number of migrations granted and allows a limited number of migrations.
If the security of your version of Windows Media Player is compromised, owners of secure content may request that Microsoft revoke the right of the Player to copy, display, and/or play secure content. Revocation does not alter the ability of Windows Media Player to play unprotected content. A list of revoked software can be sent to your computer whenever you acquire media usage rights. If Windows Media Player has been added to the revocation list, it will not be able to play secure content until you update the Player to a more recent and secure version.
If security problems are found with portable players that support Microsoft DRM, the device manufacturer or content owner may ask Microsoft to revoke the ability of these devices to play protected content. If this occurs, your device will not be able to obtain new media usage rights; however, protected content that already plays on your device will still play. Contact your device manufacturer for further information.
Music or video owners who choose to protect their content with Microsoft DRM may also require you to upgrade the DRM components on your computer before accessing their content. When you attempt to play content that requires a DRM upgrade, Windows Media Player will notify you and ask for your consent before the DRM upgrade is downloaded. If you decline the upgrade, you will not be able to access content that requires the DRM upgrade; however, you will still be able to access unprotected content and secure content that does not require the upgrade.
If you accept the upgrade, Windows Media Player will send a request to a Microsoft server containing standard computer information, standard troubleshooting data, information about the DRM components on your computer, such as their revision and security levels, and a unique identifier for your computer that is based on your hardware configuration. The Microsoft server uses this identifier to return a unique DRM upgrade for your computer, which will then be installed by Windows Media Player.
Many portable media players contain an internal clock that allows content providers to issue media usage rights based on a date or time. You can configure Windows Media Player so that it automatically sets the clock on your portable media player whenever the portable player is connected to your computer. To set the clock on a portable player, Windows Media Player first sends a time inquiry to a server at WindowsMedia.com. This inquiry contains standard computer information, standard troubleshooting data, and a request for the current time.
To configure Windows Media Player to set the clock on a portable media player
Click the Privacy tab, and then select the Set clock on devices automatically check box.
When this option is set, then, for either automatic or manual sync, Windows Media Player will set the clock before the first sync after a device is connected.
When this option is disabled during an automatic sync, Windows Media Player will not set the portable player's clock. This may cause errors when synchronizing content to the portable player if there are media usage rights that depend on an accurate time of day setting.
When this option is disabled during a manual sync, Windows Media Player will ask if you want to set the clock on the portable media player. If you consent, the clock will be set before content is transferred to the portable player. If you say no, the clock will not be set.
To provide you with the latest features and improvements, Windows Media Player will periodically check a Windows Update file on your computer to see if updates are available. If an update is found, you will be prompted that an update is available and, if you consent, the new software will be downloaded from Microsoft and installed on your computer.
In an enterprise environment, an administrator can configure group policy to prevent Windows Media Player from updating.
By default, if a compression/decompression algorithm (codec) required for playback of a piece of content (that is, the piece of software that decodes a specific kind of compressed content) is not on your computer, Windows Media Player will silently download it from a Microsoft server if you are connected to the Internet and the codec is available. The request contains standard computer information and an ID that identifies the required codec.
If you want Windows Media Player to prompt you before downloading codecs:
Click the Player tab, and then clear the Download codecs automatically check box.
When you play digital media content in Windows Media Player, some file history and media information is typically stored on your computer. You can prevent it from being stored if you don't want the information to be available to others who use your computer with the same user account.
Lists of files or URLs that you have played are displayed in the following locations in the Player: on the File menu (in the list of recently played files), in the Open URL dialog box, and in the Open dialog box. You can remove the existing lists, and you can prevent the lists from being stored in the future.
To remove lists of files or URLs you have played
Click the arrow below the Now Playing tab, click More Options, and then click the Privacy tab.
To remove the existing lists, click Clear History. This also deletes any changes that you have made to the media information for CDs and DVDs.
To prevent the lists from being stored in the future, clear the Save file and URL history in the Player check box.
To clear the list of files that are displayed in the Open dialog box, empty the list of recently used documents on your computer. For information about clearing the list of recent documents, see Windows Help and Support.
When you play a file from a website, the web address for that file will appear if you later open the Open URL dialog box and begin to type a web address. In this case, a drop-down list appears with the addresses of previously played files from websites. To clear this list, you must delete your webpage history. For information about how to do so, see Internet Explorer Help.
To improve performance, Windows Media Player stores information about the devices that connect to it in a cache. In addition, Windows Media Player can create a partnership between the Player and any portable device. This partnership specifies what content in your library will sync to your device automatically or manually.
You can clear all cached device information and all sync partnership information.
To clear cache information
You have the option of joining the Microsoft Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) to improve the quality, reliability, and performance of Microsoft software and services. If you decide to participate, we will collect anonymous information about your hardware configuration and how you use our software and services so that we can identify trends and usage patterns. We will not collect your name, address, or any other contact information. You will not be asked to complete any surveys, no salesperson will call, and you can continue working without interruption.
To sign up for the CEIP the first time you run Windows Media Player 11
In the Welcome to Media Player 11 dialog box, click Express Settings, and then click Finish.
Or, if you want to customize the Player settings, click Custom Settings, click Next, select the
I want to help make Microsoft software and services even better by sending Player usage data to Microsoft
check box, and then click Next.
If you do not sign up for the program the first time you run Windows Media Player 11, you can sign up later. You can also stop participating at any time.
To change your CEIP settings later
Click the Privacy tab, select or clear the
I want to help make Microsoft software and services even better by sending Player usage data to Microsoft
check box, and then click OK.
To read more about the program, see Customer Experience Improvement Program.
We may occasionally update this privacy statement. When we do, we will revise the "last updated" date at the top of the privacy statement. We encourage you to periodically review this privacy statement to be informed of how Microsoft is protecting your information.
Microsoft welcomes your comments regarding this privacy statement. If you have questions about this statement or believe that we have not adhered to it, please contact us via e-mail.
Windows Media Privacy, Microsoft Corporation, One Microsoft Way, Redmond, Washington 98052
For the Microsoft subsidiary in your country/region, see the
Microsoft Worldwide page.