Windows 10: Microsoft is Giving Away $10 Million (and You're Giving Away All Your Data)

Have you downloaded your new version of Windows yet, Windows 10? At least 67 million PCs already have it installed since the launch on July 28th, and many more will be doing so in the future, including large numbers of nonprofits.

Along with the launch of Windows 10, which runs with the tagline "Upgrade Your World," Microsoft also announced that it will partner with 10 global and 100 local nonprofits to help them "upgrade their worlds." A total of $10 million in cash investments will be made by Microsoft in support of these nonprofits' missions, and to promote awareness of their causes.

Ten nonprofits in total will benefit from this largesse. Nine nonprofits have been chosen by Microsoft: CARE, Code.org, Keep a Child Alive, the Malala Fund, Pencils of Promise, Save the Children, the Special Olympics, the Global Poverty Project, and the Nature Conservancy. Microsoft's signature issue for its charity is youth, so you can see how youth services is embedded in most of these causes.

The 10th will be chosen by a hashtag count that will be open until August 23rd and announced on September 1. The nonprofit that can inspire the most people to use the hashtag #UpgradeYourWorld while talking about its work will win a $500,000 cash donation as well as additional Microsoft freebies and services. In an interview with Devin Thorpe of Forbes, Elisa Willman, senior manager of marketing communications, corporate citizenship and public affairs for Microsoft, confirmed that the winner will be based on a "hashtag count, strictly speaking." You can learn more about how to participate here. 

Oh, and with the launch of Windows 10, users who download the new operating system will be giving Microsoft all rights for access to emails, calendar data, current location and location history, information in private folders and basically anything else Microsoft can get its cyber-hands on. You might want to check out what you are giving away, and how to navigate the 13 screens it takes to undo the default data mining that is par for the course with Windows 10.

With regard to the new privacy and transparency issues raised about Windows 10, a Microsoft spokesperson had this to say: "Windows 10 puts customers in control by giving them choices about how information is used to deliver personalized services and experiences. We also offer customers a number of options in Windows 10 privacy settings, and customers can adjust their Windows 10 privacy settings at any time.” 

Whether you are concerned about the privacy and transparency issues of Microsoft 10 or not, Microsoft appears to be one of the more enlightened employers when it comes to encouraging volunteering and giving back to the community. Dave Forstrom, Director of Communications for Windows, talked about his experiences with the launch of Windows 10, and how the thing that meant the most to him about the whole launch was going to Mary's Place, a shelter in Seattle for 250 homeless women, children and families. He said, "Seeing handfuls of Microsoft employees there interacting with these women and their children, it hit me, this is a company that is really inspired and moved by enabling people's potential." Forstrom is the father of seven children, two of whom are boys adopted from Ethiopia.

With its Upgrade Your World release of Windows 10, Microsoft is also giving all of its employees an extra day off per year to volunteer in the community. That's pretty sweet. Last time I brought up volunteering at a corporate job, it landed me in trouble with upper management. It would be great to believe that Microsoft genuinely encourages and allows people to take time off from work to volunteer, with no negative repercussions.

So all in all, thumbs-up on the new charitable initiatives and the changes in corporate culture at Microsoft. Now it will be up to users to give Microsoft a good dose of feedback on the new default privacy settings, helping to determine if this issue will need to be addressed in subsequent upgrades. 

Related: Why Does Microsoft Do So Much Corporate Giving in Chicago? Ask This Woman