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Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 Family Privacy Statement

Published: August 2012

At Microsoft, we're working hard to 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 Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 ("Visual Studio").

Collection and Use of Your Personal Information

When we need information that personally identifies you or allows us to contact you, we will explicitly ask you for it. 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 important notifications regarding the software; to improve the product or service, for example bug and survey form inquiries; to provide you with advance notice of events; or to tell you about new product releases.

Except as described in this statement, personal information you provide will not be transferred to third parties 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 products or services, processing event registration, or performing statistical analysis of our services. We will only provide those companies the personal 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 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 Economic Area and Switzerland.

Microsoft may access or disclose information about you, including the content of your communications, in order 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, customers, or the public. We may also disclose personal information as part of a corporate transaction such as a merger or sale of assets.

Collection and Use of Information about Your Computer

Visual Studio contains features that communicate with services on the Internet. When these features are used, they send certain standard information from your computer ("standard computer information") to Microsoft. Standard computer information typically includes information such as your IP address, operating system version, browser version, your hardware ID which indicates the device manufacturer, device name, and version and your regional and language settings. This information is generally not personally identifiable and is similar to the information your browser sends to each website you visit.

The privacy details for each Visual Studio feature listed below will disclose what additional information is collected and how it is used.

Security of Your Information

Microsoft is committed to protecting the security of your information. We use a variety of security technologies and procedures to help protect your information from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure. For example, we store the information you provide on computer servers with limited access that are located in controlled facilities.

Changes to the Privacy Statement

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.

For More Information

If you have questions about this privacy statement, please contact us by e-mail at vsswp@microsoft.com.

Visual Studio Privacy

Microsoft Corporation
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, Washington 98052

Specific Features

Visual Studio Checks for Updates

What This Feature Does:

Upon launch Visual Studio will check the availability of new features or updates to user’s extensions/add-ins.

Information Collected, Processed, or Transmitted:

The user's IP address and the version of Visual Studio are transmitted to the server hosting the feed as well as any search and filter parameters supplied by the user.

Use of Information:

Microsoft uses this information to check the availability of new features or updates for product features, including user’s extensions. It returns data to notify the user of the availability of those new features or updates.

Choice/Control:

The feeds are on by default but can be disabled individually by the user. To turn on or off auto detection of updates, go to the Tools Menu and select Options. Click on the Environment node, then the Extension Manager node. Check or uncheck “Automatically Check for updates to installed extensions.

Visual Studio Feeds

What This Feature Does:

Visual Studio downloads XML feeds from the Internet that contain metadata of up-to-date content (see below for downloaded content description):

Visual Studio News feed:

This feature allows users to opt-in to download up-to-date information and news about Microsoft technologies. This feature checks for and downloads new information and news every 60 minutes by default. Users can configure the news feeds and the frequency setting.

  • Visual Studio gallery: This feature downloads descriptive information from Microsoft about extensions and development tools that the customer may use with Visual Studio.
  • Third party galleries: When the user adds a new third party gallery, this feature downloads from third party sites descriptive information about extensions that the customer may use with Visual Studio.
  • Samples gallery: This feature downloads descriptive information about code samples that the customer can choose to download and incorporate in applications.

Information Collected, Processed, or Transmitted:

The user's IP address and the version of Visual Studio are transmitted to the server hosting the feed as well as any search and filter parameters supplied by the user.

Use of Information:

Microsoft uses this information to return the necessary data to enable Visual Studio to display the latest content.

Choice/Control:

  • Visual Studio News Feed: The user can turn this feed off by clearing the Download Content checkbox in the Startup panel of the Tools/Options dialog. The user can also add a different news feed by adding the RSS link to the ‘Start Page news channel’ text box.
  • Gallery Feeds: Gallery online access can be disabled by an Administrator using group policy settings. See the documentation page entitled "How to - Manage a Private Gallery by Using Registry Settings” for detailed instructions.

Download and Installation Services

What This Feature Does:

The Visual Studio feeds offer the user a selection of installable items. Users can select items that Visual Studio will download and install.

Information Collected, Processed, or Transmitted:

When the user makes a selection from the feed, Visual Studio will transmit the item ID and when needed the version of Visual Studio that originated the request, along with the user's IP address.

Use of Information:

The service may keep a count of downloads for a particular selection; however, no personally identifiable information is retained.

Choice/Control:

Users can cancel downloads and/or installs by clicking the cancel button in the dialogs.

Connections to Microsoft Services

What This Feature Does:

Visual Studio has added several features that enable users to interact with Microsoft services, such the Windows Azure and Office365. Information Collected, Processed, or Transmitted:

Data be transmitted to Microsoft as follows:

  • Hosted Services: You will be prompted to provide a certificate that is used by Visual Studio to connect to Windows Azure.
  • Storage Accounts: You will be prompted to provide an access key.
  • Publish to Windows Azure: Your content is sent over the Internet to Windows Azure.
  • Browse Windows Azure storage accounts: You will be actively connected over the Internet to Windows Azure.
  • Enable IntelliTrace for your service: Debugging data will be written to your Windows Azure storage account and then downloaded to your machine to help you identify errors in your service. If you choose to monitor your service, then status information will be actively retrieved over the Internet from Windows Azure.
  • Develop on Office 365: You will need to transmit your credentials when connecting to Office 365 to authenticate. After you authenticate, you may be able to create an Office 365 project or publish a project to Office 365.

Use of Information:

The information you send to Microsoft is used by Microsoft to provide the services.

Any data sent to and/or stored in Microsoft services is used in accordance to the applicable service specific agreement.

Choice/Control:

Depending on the feature, users can choose whether or not to store the service credentials, locally on their computer. There is no choice to save the account information if the feature requires this information to function.

When publishing to Windows Azure through you may be given a choice as to which of your credentials to use, what service slot to which you want to deploy (e.g. “staging” or “production”), and the storage account to use. Permission for Visual Studio to connect to Windows Azure may be revoked at any time, either by removing the credential information through the provided Visual Studio or by using the Windows Azure development portal to regenerate the access keys for storage accounts or removing the API certificate for the account.

Visual Studio Help

What This Feature Does:

Visual Studio gives you a choice about how to access help content. You can access help content online from the Internet (which lets you access the latest version of the help content), installed help content on your machine, or both. Help is available online from MSDN (the Microsoft Developer Network site) and third party web sites, based on administrator settings. Help lets you query help content on the Internet automatically when performing a search, searching from MSDN and third-party websites. In addition, you can get information from these sites by pressing the F1 key on language keywords in the Visual Studio Editor.

Information Collected, Processed or Transmitted:

In order to return relevant results, when pressing F1, Help transmits data to the sites you designate in the Online Content option. This data includes standard computer information, submitted search strings, keywords selected in the editor and the sources to be searched (such as MSDN Online).

Use of Information:

If you select a third party through the Online Content option, the privacy policy for third party sites applies when searching such sites.
For more information about the privacy practices of the third party site you choose to query, you may review the sites’ privacy statement.

Choice/Control:

Help Viewer checks online for updated content by default but can be disabled by the user.

To change the default setting from the VS IDE:

  1. Under the Help menu, select Add and Remove Help Content.
  2. Check or uncheck Go online to retrieve content and check for content updates to enable the desired behavior.

To change the default setting from the Help Viewer:

  1. Select the Viewer Options icon in the viewer toolbar.
  2. Check or uncheck Go online to retrieve content and check for content updates to enable the desired behavior.

Visual Studio Help Viewer

What This Feature Does:

Upon launch, the Visual Studio Help Viewer will check online for a list of content available for local installation. Additionally, Help Viewer will check for content online if your search query does not return results from content stored locally.  

Information Collected, Processed, or Transmitted:

In order to return relevant results, when pressing F1, Help transmits data to the sites you designate in the Online Content option. This data includes standard computer information, submitted search strings, keywords selected in the editor and the sources to be searched (such as MSDN Online).

Visual Studio Integrated Partner Products or Administrators’ can override the values in the Online Content option as described in the Enterprise features section below.

Use of Information:

The service may keep a count of downloads for a particular selection and search queries in order to improve the relevance and accuracy of results. No personally identifiable information is retained. 

Choice/Control:

Help Viewer checks online for updated content by default but can be disabled by the user.

To change the default setting from the VS IDE:

  1. Under the Help menu, select Add and Remove Help Content.
  2. Check or uncheck Go online to retrieve content and check for content updates to enable the desired behavior.

To change the default setting from the Help Viewer:

  1. Select the Viewer Options icon in the viewer toolbar.
  2. Check or uncheck Go online to retrieve content and check for content updates to enable the desired behavior.

Enterprise features for Administrators:

As an Administrator you can:

  • Disable online operation for Help Viewer.
    • Online operation for the help client is enabled by default. Disabling online operation will disable the ‘Online’ radio button on the Installation Source section of the Manage tab. Therefore, the Help viewer will not prompt the user to go online at first run.
  • Disable Content Manager
    • This removes the ability for the users to initiate their own Online Content installations and updates.
  • Define a default content source by overriding the default Online Content package service provided by Visual Studio installation.

The Administrators Guide can be accessed here: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=231395&clcid=0x409.

Customer Experience Improvement Program

What This Feature Does:

The Customer Experience Improvement Program (“CEIP”) collects basic information about your hardware configuration and how you use our software and services to identify trends and usage patterns. CEIP also collects includes the type and number of errors you encounter, software and hardware performance, and the speed of services. We will not collect your name, address, or other contact information. In most versions of Visual Studio 2012, CEIP is turned off by default and users will be presented with the option to participate in CEIP during set up.  In certain express versions, users will have to opt out of CEIP by selecting not to participate in the program during setup.

Use of Information:

We use this information to improve the quality, reliability, and performance of Microsoft software and services.

Choice/Control:

If you prefer not to participate, you can turn off CEIP at any time by:

During setup

Users can select to opt out of CEIP. Please note that even if users opt out of CEIP, some non-personally identifiable data regarding your setup experience will still be sent to Microsoft. See below for more details. In the Product

  1. From the Help menu, select Customer Feedback Options
  2. To turn CEIP off, click No, I would not like to participate.

To participate in the program:

  1. From the Help menu, select Customer Feedback Options
  2. To turn CEIP on, click Yes, I am willing to participate …Click OK.

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

Setup Reporting

What This Feature Does:

Setup reports will collect basic information about your Visual Studio installation process, such as the version of Visual Studio you installed and if you encountered any errors, and send it back to Microsoft.This information is generally not personally identifiable and the report is only set after the installation process. Microsoft does not store your IP address with this report.

Use of Information:

Microsoft uses this information to improve the quality, reliability, and performance of Microsoft software and services.

Windows Error Reporting

What This Feature Does:

The Error Reporting feature allows you to report problems you may be having with Visual Studio to Microsoft and to receive information that may help you get around or solve such problems.

Information Collected, Processed, or Transmitted:

The Error Reporting feature collects Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, which are not used to identify users. It does not intentionally collect anyone's name, address, email address, computer name, or any information that will be used to identify you or contact you. It is possible that such information may be captured in memory or in the data collected from open files, but Microsoft does not use it to identify you.

In rare cases, such as problems that are especially difficult to solve, Microsoft may request additional data, including sections of memory (which may include memory shared by any or all applications running at the time the problem occurred), some registry settings, and one or more files from your computer. Your current documents may also be included. When additional data is requested, you can review the data and choose whether or not to send it.

Use of Information:

Microsoft uses the data it collects is for solving customer problems and improving its software.

Choice/Control:

Each time an error occurs, a report is generated and you are asked if you want to send this report to Microsoft. You will have an opportunity to view the information contained in the error report before choosing whether or not to send the report.

Enterprise customers can use Group Policy to configure how Error Reporting behaves on their computers. Configuration options include the ability to completely turn off Error Reporting. If you are an administrator and wish to configure Group Policy for Error Reporting, technical details are available at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=35776.

Important Information:

For more details on what information is collected and how it is used, see the Error Reporting privacy information at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=31490.

IntelliSense for JavaScript

What This Feature Does:

To improve IntelliSense during JavaScript development, Visual Studio can download remotely referenced files. This will happen under two scenarios: (1) The user downloads a project from the Internet that references a remote file; or (2) the user adds a reference to a remote file.

Information Collected, Processed, or Transmitted:

Visual Studio will transmit the web request for the referenced file to the referenced web server, and download the referenced file from the web server.

Use of Information:

The referenced script that is downloaded is used to improve JavaScript IntelliSense.

Choice/Control:

A user can enable Project files that contain web references to download the remote files by:

  1. Navigating to the Tools menu
  2. Select OptionsText EditorJavaScript
  3. Select IntelliSense
  4. In the available options check the Download remote references.

Navigation Control

What This Feature Does:

This feature transforms select Visual Studio ‘explorer’ windows into navigation control objects. This provides the user a web like experience when using these new explorer windows. Users will have the ability to search, filter content and navigate forwards and back within a window. Links in these ‘explorer’ Windows can navigate between in-product content, online content and cloud services.

  • Visual Studio Videos – Visual Studio now contains links to videos hosted on the web. These videos provide the user with tutorials on specific Visual Studio features. If the user is connected to the Internet, video content will be streamed to the user’s machine upon clicking on a video link.
  • Team Foundation Client – Allows the user to connect to an on-premise or hosted Team Foundation Server. Some of the windows for interacting with the server content have moved to cloud services and will open in a web browser.

Information Collected, Processed, or Transmitted:

This feature transmits internet protocol addresses which are not used to identify users.

Use of Information:

The information collected is only used to retrieve the selected content.

Send Feedback

What This Extension Does:

Send Feedback is an optional feature that allows a user to submit a Connect (https://connect.microsoft.com/) bug for Visual Studio or Blend.

Information Collected, Processed, or Transmitted:

As part of submitting the bug, the user may select data to send to Microsoft by attaching comments, screenshots, project files, video, and other related data.

Use of Information:

Microsoft will use this information in order to investigate the reported issue and improve our products. Any information the user sends to Microsoft through the Send Feedback feature will not be used to contact the end user.

Choice/Control:

Users have the option to review, add and delete all the content in the feedback before submitting it to Microsoft.

PreEmptive Analytics CE

What This Extension Does:

If you choose to install PreEmptive Analytics CE, you will be able to instrument your applications to automatically send back exception report data to your PreEmptive Analytics endpoint service as errors occur during their execution. Your PreEmptive Analytics aggregator service then collects these error reports and automatically creates or updates work items in Microsoft Team Foundation Server based on rules and thresholds you define.

Information Collected, Processed, or Transmitted:

If you choose to enable PreEmptive Analytics data collection for your application, the resulting Team Foundation Server work items will include the exception type, message, full stack trace, the contents of any inner exceptions, and the list of all assemblies loaded at the time of the exception, as well as the number of such exceptions received. With a small amount of additional configuration, you will also be able to see unique instance identifiers (such as the serial number of each application instance that experienced the exception) as well as comments about the error and contact information, if provided by the end user.

Use of Information:

Please see the Windows Azure Privacy Statement for more information. Please see PreEmptive’s Privacy Statement to learn more information about how data sent to PreEmptive is used.  http://www.preemptive.com/ceprivacy

Choice/Control:

You can choose whether or not to enable PreEmptive Analytics data collection for your application. In addition, 3rd party developers making use of PreEmptive Analytics may opt-in to providing their users with control of whether their analytics data is collected and provided back to the application developer.

Links to Third Party Sites

What This Feature Does:

Visual Studio includes links to third party sites, like Facebook or Twitter, whose privacy practices may differ from those of Microsoft. Such links enable you to share information through the third party at your discretion.

Choice/Control:

If you submit information to any of those sites, your information is governed by the privacy statements on those sites. We encourage you to review the privacy statement of any site you visit.