Windows Media Center privacy statement

Last updated: April 2009

Microsoft is committed to helping to protect your privacy. To help you make an informed choice regarding your privacy, Microsoft publishes privacy statements that disclose what information is collected, how that information is used, and which privacy controls exist.

This privacy statement explains the data collection and use practices of Windows Media Center features that are included with your version of Windows Media Center (“Windows Media Center”). This statement does not apply to other online or offline Microsoft websites, products, or services.

Collection and use of information

When we need information that personally identifies you or allows us to contact you, we will explicitly ask you for it. For example, if you choose to register your software, we will collect your name, address, telephone number, business name, and email address. The personal information we collect from you will be used by Microsoft and its controlled subsidiaries and affiliates to provide the service(s) or carry out the transaction(s) you have requested or authorized, and may also be used to request additional information on feedback that you provide about the product or service that you are using; to provide notifications regarding the software; to improve the product or service; to provide you with advance notice of events; or to tell you about new product releases.

To offer you a more consistent and personalized experience in your interactions with Microsoft, information collected through one Microsoft service may be combined with information obtained through other Microsoft services. We may also supplement the information we collect with information obtained from other companies. For example, to customize certain services to your geographic area, we may use services from other companies to derive your general geographic area based on your IP address.

Information collected by Microsoft as part of providing you with Windows Media Center may be stored and processed in the United States or any other country/region in which Microsoft or its affiliates, subsidiaries, or service providers maintain facilities. Microsoft abides by the safe harbor framework as set forth by the U.S. Department of Commerce regarding the collection, use, and retention of data from the European Union.

We occasionally hire other companies to provide limited services on our behalf, such as handling the processing and delivery of mailings, providing customer support, providing TV listings, reporting, researching, development, processing transactions, or performing statistical analysis of our services and Internet-based content. We will only provide those companies with the information they need to deliver the service. They are required to maintain the confidentiality of that information and are prohibited from using that information for any other purpose.

Microsoft may access and/or disclose information if required to do so by law or in the good faith belief that such action is necessary to: (a) comply with the law or respond to lawful requests or legal process; (b) protect the rights or property of Microsoft or our customers, including the enforcement of our agreements or policies governing your use of the services; or (c) act on a good faith belief that such access or disclosure is necessary to protect the personal safety of Microsoft employees, users of Microsoft products or services, or members of the public.

Collection and use of information about your computer for Internet-based features and services

Windows Media Center has tightly integrated Internet capabilities to provide a rich set of features, such as the ability to create an enhanced media playback experience and access Internet-based content and services. The information that Windows Media Center sends across the Internet depends on the feature that is being used and which privacy controls have been set. When you use Internet-enabled features of Windows Media Center, information about your computer ("standard computer information") is sent to the Internet-based features you use. Microsoft uses standard computer information to provide you Internet-enabled features, to help improve our products and services, and for statistical analysis. Standard computer information typically includes information such as your IP address, operating system version, browser version, and regional and language settings. In some cases, standard computer information may also include hardware ID, which indicates the device manufacturer, device name, and version. If a particular feature or service sends information to Microsoft, standard computer information will also be sent.

Additionally, when you use Windows Media Center features to access, view, or use Internet-based content and services, we may collect information about your visit, including access times, the pages or items you view, searches for content, the links or other items you click, and other actions you take in connection with the content and services you are accessing or viewing. We may also collect information about content or software errors that occurred when viewing or using certain Internet-based content and services, which includes the type of error, where the error occurred, and the time of the error.

Electronic Program Guide

The Electronic Program Guide (or Program Guide) service provides you with customized television listings information specific to your television service. To customize the listings, you will be asked for your ZIP/postal code and which television service you receive. If you choose to use the Program Guide service, with a broadband connection to the Internet, up to 14 days of television listings will be downloaded to your computer every day. If you use a dial-up connection to access the Internet, you must manually download the television listings or store your connection user name and password in the Internet Connection settings in Control Panel so that the connection can be used automatically. Your connection user name and password will not be sent to Microsoft.

When you use the Program Guide, it collects and provides information to Microsoft regarding the operation of the television listings that were downloaded from Microsoft to your computer (“Program Guide–related information”). This information includes the amount of data downloaded, the duration of the download, whether the download completed successfully, and any edits you make to remedy incorrect channel assignments. This information also includes certain standard information about your computer hardware and software such as your IP address, access times, and geographic information that may include your country and ZIP/postal code.

You may terminate your use of the Program Guide at any time by doing the following: 

  1. On the Windows Media Center Start page, click Tasks, click Settings, click General, click Privacy, and then click Privacy Settings.

  2. Clear the Use the Guide and send information to Microsoft to improve the quality and accuracy of the service check box, and then click Save.

Note: After you clear this setting, the current TV listings will remain on your computer but you will not receive any new listings.

The Program Guide–related information collected by Microsoft is associated with a unique identifier for the personal computer and not with information that is used to identify or contact you. All references to “you” in this privacy statement with respect to Program Guide–related information collected and used by Microsoft include you and any other person that you authorize or permit to use the Program Guide on your personal computer.

Microsoft collects, stores, and processes Program Guide–related information to effectively operate the Program Guide. Program Guide–related information may also be used to customize the content, information, and Program Guide services that are delivered to your personal computer and for other purposes. For example, collection and analysis of Program Guide–related information helps us improve the Program Guide service by addressing incorrect channel assignments and measuring the costs and effectiveness of providing the Program Guide to ensure our systems and business models are efficient and effective. In general, the collection and use of Program Guide–related information allows Microsoft to provide the Program Guide and to continue to develop and provide improved content, products, and services that are of the most interest to our customers.

Share Program Guide–related information

Microsoft may provide Program Guide–related information in aggregate form to non-Microsoft companies who provide services to Microsoft. Such services include the provision of TV listings, reporting, customer support, and research and development. Microsoft may also disclose Program Guide–related information as described elsewhere in the privacy statement.

Access and modify Program Guide-related information

Because Program Guide–related information is compiled automatically and in a form that cannot be used to identify or contact you by the Program Guide, you may not access or modify such data. You can, however, modify the data you provided to Microsoft when you registered to use the Program Guide (such as your customized TV listings, ZIP/Postal code, and television service provider).

To access or modify Program Guide-related information

  1. On the Windows Media Center Start page, click Tasks, click Settings, and then click TV.

  2. Click Guide, and then click Edit Channels, Add Missing Channels, or Set Up Guide Listings.

TV tuners with protected content

When you run the Windows Media Center setup and have a tuner capable of playing protected content connected to your computer, Windows Media Center will ask whether it is okay to silently connect to the Internet to update the DRM components. If you agree, the DRM components will be updated at that time. After that point, Windows Media Center may automatically verify you have the latest DRM components each time a new Program Guide is downloaded by verifying that your DRM certificates are current. An Internet connection will be required (dial-up or broadband). If your computer is not able to connect to the Internet for periods of longer than 30 days, Windows Media Center will prompt you to enable an Internet connection before secure content can be accessed.

If the security of your DRM components is compromised, owners of secure content may request that Microsoft revoke the right of Windows Media Center to copy, display, and/or play secure content. Revocation does not alter the ability of Windows Media Center to play unprotected content. If Windows Media Center, a Microsoft codec, a display driver, or the security components on your computer have been added to the revocation list, Windows Media Center will not be able to play secure content until you update the DRM components to a more recent and secure version.

Enhanced playback and Internet-based content and services

Windows Media Center can frequently connect to the Internet to provide an enhanced Windows Media Center experience with Internet services, links to Microsoft and non-Microsoft websites and Internet-based content, sports and news information, and other Internet services as they become available. Microsoft collects certain standard information when you use online services. This information may include the amount of data downloaded, the duration of the download, and whether the download completed successfully. This information also includes certain standard information about your computer hardware and software such as your IP address, access times, and geographic information which may include your country and ZIP/postal code.

You can prevent Windows Media Center from automatically connecting to the Internet to download music and movie information, as well as Internet services.

To prevent Windows Media Center from going to the Internet to download this information, do the following:

  1. On the Windows Media Center Start page, click Tasks, click Settings, click General, and then click Automatic Download Options.

  2. Clear the Retrieve CD album art, media information for DVDs and movies, and Internet Services from the Internet check box, and then click Save.

Partner Content Services

You can use Windows Media Center to access Microsoft and third-party video content and services delivered by external partners (“Partner Content Services”). If you choose to use a Partner Content Service, Microsoft and/or the partner may collect, receive, and use information about your activities within the Partner Content Service, including content that is browsed, viewed, or requested; performed searches; and changes to preferences, content queues, ordering mechanisms, parental control settings, or other configurations or settings available within the Partner Content Service. Microsoft does not control the information that is collected by partners in connection with Partner Content Services, and Microsoft is not responsible for the privacy practices of such partners. If Microsoft collects such information on behalf of a partner, Microsoft may transmit such information to the partner to operate and deliver the Partner Content Services, and for other purposes as the partner may disclose to you in their applicable privacy policies. Microsoft will use the information it collects in connection with Partner Content Services to operate the Partner Content Service, including to deliver personalized content, recommendations, and other features, and to analyze and improve Microsoft products and services.

Certain Partner Content Services will require you to install additional Windows Media Center software. In connection with such software installation, Microsoft will collect standard computer information, such as your IP address and geographic information that may include your country and ZIP/Postal code. The collected information is not used to personally identify you or contact you.

Some Partner Content Services may require you to enter your membership user name and password to use the Partner Content Services. Your user name and password will be sent to the partner, who may then return an authentication token to Microsoft to verify your ability to access the Partner Content Services. Windows Media Center or the Partner Content Services may allow you to save your user name and password and/or an authentication token on your computer so that you do not need to enter your user name and password each time you use the Partner Content Services. Microsoft will not intentionally collect and will not use your user name and password or authentication token for any purpose other than to provide you access to the Partner Content Service. If you do not want Windows Media Center to save your account information, you can specify this on the Partner Content Service login page (for example, clear the “Remember me on this computer” check box).

Non-Microsoft websites, applications, and services

Certain Windows Media Center features provide you with access to non-Microsoft websites, content, and services. When you access non-Microsoft websites, content, or services, you will be subject to that website's privacy practices. Similarly, when you run non-Microsoft applications or services in Windows Media Center, you will be subject to the other company's privacy practices. Microsoft is not responsible for the privacy practices of non-Microsoft sites, applications, or services.

Some applications, websites, and services that are available from Windows Media Center will request information from your computer to provide you with an enhanced experience. They can ask Windows Media Center for information about the currently playing song or video, including the title, artist, and length of the content. Microsoft does not send information about television shows that you watch or information that personally identifies you to applications, websites, and services without your consent except as otherwise described in this privacy statement. However, these applications, websites, and services can request other information, such as the ZIP/Postal code you used when you configured the Electronic Program Guide. A website might use this information to customize content, for example by providing weather information based on your ZIP/Postal code.

To turn this feature off

  1. On the Windows Media Center Start page, click Tasks, click Settings, click General, and then click Automatic Download Options.

  2. Clear the Retrieve CD album art, media information for DVDs and movies, and Internet Services from the Internet check box, and then click Save.

Cookies

Some of the features in this software use cookies in conjunction with an associated website. A cookie is a small text file that is placed on your hard disk by a web server. Cookies are uniquely assigned to you, and can only be read by a web server in the domain that issued the cookie to you. Cookies cannot be used to run programs or deliver viruses to your computer.

A cookie is often used to personalize your visit to a website or to save you time. For example, to facilitate a purchase, the cookie could contain information such as your current selection, as well as personally identifiable information such as your name or email address. Similarly, streaming media servers you connect to through the Internet may also establish cookies on your computer. To help websites track individual visitors, cookies often contain a unique identifier. It is up to the website that created the cookie to disclose to you what information is stored in the cookie and how that information is used.

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 decide to block one or more cookies, the websites that use them may not function correctly. For example, if the WindowsMedia.com cookie is blocked, you may lose some features such as the ability to set Radio Tuner Presets in Windows Media Player.

Cookies previously saved to your hard drive may still be read by Windows Media Center unless you remove them. If you use Internet Explorer as your web browser, you can use the Internet Options in Microsoft Windows to modify your browser settings for cookies as follows:

  1. Open Internet Explorer.

  2. Click Tools, click Internet Options, and then click the Privacy tab.

  3. Move the slider up to Block All Cookies. On this setting, web sites will not be able to store cookies on your computer.

Note: 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 through the Edit menu. See Internet Explorer online Help for more information.

Music information

Windows Media Center uses Windows Media technology to play music files (e.g., WMA and MP3 files) that are located in the Windows Media Library (the same library used by Windows Media Player). When you play music files, the Windows Media technology will access the Internet if:

  • You need to acquire a license to play a protected music file.

  • You need to download a codec (software used to compress and decompress digital media) to play a music file.

  • You are playing streaming music or radio from the Internet.

  • You are playing a music file that does not have related media information (such as album title, album art, song title, DVD title, artist, and composer) stored in your Windows Media Library.

Privacy options in Windows Media Player control what happens when you acquire licenses or download a codec. To learn more about which privacy controls exist and how playing streamed content affects your privacy, see the Windows Media Player privacy statement available at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=120722.

Playback of protected digital content

When you play music or video content that is protected by Digital Rights Management (DRM), Windows Media Center will need to retrieve media usage rights (a license) from a license server on the Internet if you don't already have a license. Most license servers are operated by companies other than Microsoft. When requesting a license, Windows Media Center will provide the license server with certain standard information that includes your computer’s IP address, an ID for the music or video file, the action you have requested (such as play), information about the DRM components on your computer such as their version and security level, and a digital certificate. This digital certificate is used only to generate a license and is not available to the license server in a way that uniquely identifies your computer.

By default, Windows Media Center will automatically attempt to acquire a license unless the license server requires some input from you (such as registration information or a fee). You can turn off automatic license acquisition in Windows Media Player. If you do so, you will be prompted to obtain a license for any new content that requires one.

To learn more about automatic license acquisition and how DRM affects your privacy, see the Windows Media Player privacy statement available at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=120722.

WindowsMedia.com and enhanced playback of CDs and DVDs

To enrich your experience when playing CDs and DVDs, Windows Media Center can download display-related media information about your content such as the album title, album art, song title, DVD title, artist, and composer from WindowsMedia.com. For CDs and DVDs, Windows Media Center sends an identifier for the CD or DVD to a service operated by WindowsMedia.com. If related media information is found for the CD or DVD, WindowsMedia.com will send the information back to your computer, where it will be displayed for you.

This information is cached on your computer for as long as Windows Media Center is open. Album art retrieved by Windows Media Center for CDs and DVDs is not available when you are not connected to the Internet. When Windows Media Center is closed, the information will be removed, following the policies you have set for your Internet cache. For more information about your Internet cache, see the Help documentation in your web browser.

To prevent Windows Media Center from searching for related media information for CDs and DVDs

  1. On the Windows Media Center Start page, click Tasks, click Settings, click General, and then click Automatic Download Options.

  2. Clear the Retrieve CD album art, media information for DVDs and movies, and Internet Services from the Internet check box, and then click Save.

Note: This setting is independent of the Work Offline setting found in Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer.

WindowsMedia.com is a website operated by Microsoft. Like most websites, WindowsMedia.com maintains a log of all requests that are sent to it (such as a request for media information for a CD or DVD) along with the sender's IP address. The log will include your WindowsMedia.com cookie if cookies are enabled for the site. To learn more about how WindowsMedia.com affects your privacy, see the Microsoft Online Privacy Notice Highlights available at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=31525 or from the bottom of any WindowsMedia.com web page. For more information about cookies, and how to control them, see the Cookies section earlier in this document.

Windows Media Center updates

For the latest features and improvements, you can get updates to Windows Media Center from Windows Update. You can control whether and how Windows Update operates. The Windows Update Privacy Statement is available at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=50142.

Usage history within Windows Media Center

Windows Media Center keeps track of the last TV channel watched or recorded so that the next time you select TV, it will be tuned to that channel. A list of recently recorded shows is also created and displayed under Recorded TV. This list can only be altered by deleting a show from the list or by making more recent recordings.

A history of what has been recorded, and what hasn’t been recorded because of problems, is kept indefinitely.

To clear the history of what has and hasn't been recorded

  1. On the Windows Media Center Start page, click TV, click Recorded TV, click View Scheduled, and then click History.

  2. Click Clear History.

None of the usage history described above is sent to Microsoft. However, other people who use your computer may be able to access it.

Customer Experience Improvement Program

If you choose to participate, the Customer Experience Improvement Program (“CEIP”) will collect basic information about your hardware configuration and how you use our software and services to identify trends and usage patterns. CEIP also collects the type and number of errors you encounter, software and hardware performance, and the speed of services. CEIP will not collect your name, address, or other contact information. CEIP uses this information to improve the quality, reliability, and performance of Microsoft software and services.

You are offered the opportunity to participate in CEIP during setup. If you choose to participate and later change your mind, you can turn off CEIP at any time.

To turn off CEIP

  1. On the Windows Media Center Start page, click Tasks, click Settings, click General, click Privacy, and then click Customer Experience Settings.

  2. Clear the Send usage and reliability information to Microsoft check box, and then click Save.

For more information about CEIP, see http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=52097.

Security

Microsoft is committed to protect the security of your information by using a variety of security technologies and procedures to help protect your information from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure.

Changes to the privacy statement

Microsoft may occasionally update this privacy statement. The “last updated” date at the top of the page is revised every time the privacy statement is updated. We encourage you to periodically review this privacy statement to be informed of how Microsoft is protecting your information.

Contact Information

If you believe that Microsoft has not adhered to this statement, please contact us using this web form: http://go.microsoft.com/?linkid=4320005.

Windows Media Center Privacy
Microsoft Corporation
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052

To find contact details for the Microsoft subsidiary or affiliate in your country/region, see http://www.microsoft.com/worldwide/.

Top of page