Microsoft has reignited its war of words with Google by hitting out at the search giant's plans to shake up its online user privacy rules.
These changes, which are expected to come into effect on 1 March, mean that information that account holders provide to one of Google's services would be shared across the firm's other online products.
In a blog post announcing the changes, Google's director of privacy, product and engineering Alma Whitten said having one policy for many products is standard procedure on the web.
Regulators globally have been calling for "shorter, simpler privacy policies", she said.
"In short, we'll treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience."
The changes have been scrutinised by Frank Shaw, vice president of corporate communications at Microsoft, in a series of blog posts on the software giant's home page.
In one post, he said the changes would make it "harder, not easier" for people to control their information online, before urging concerned Google users to take another look at Microsoft's offerings.
"If you haven't tried Microsoft products and services, give ‘em a shot," he wrote. "If you've tried them before and moved on, come on back. We've left the light on for you."
"People tend to stay logged into their email service throughout the day. So all [the] internet searches you do with Google become tied to that same identity."
"So what looks on the surface like a simple choice of email provider has an iceberg-sized set of implications below it."
To get round this, he claims users would have to create dummy Gmail accounts, use separate browsers and regularly sign out of their accounts.
"Contrast that with using Hotmail or Office 365. We are not using the contents of your mail to deliver ads, nor do we change your search results based on your email content," he added.
"And, because you're not logged into Gmail, the videos you view on YouTube remain known only to you."
The changes have also come under fire from the European Union, which has urged Google to hold off on introducing them.
According to a Bloomberg report, the Article 29 Working Party, a group of EU data protection regulators, are concerned the policies could prove too invasive.
In a letter addressed to Google chief executive Larry Page, the group have called on the vendor to halt the rollout of the proposals until "there can be no misunderstanding about Google's commitment to the information rights of their users".
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