In June 2014, Microsoft announced a series of changes to its Privacy Policy and its Services Agreement.

The "Services Agreement" is the agreement that governs the rules for using Microsoft Services as a customer of Bing Ads.

The changes to Microsoft's Privacy Policy and Services Agreement were announced through email.

It follows the best practices on how to notify users about changes to your Privacy Policy or other legal agreements, such as a Terms of Service.

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This kind of email is very useful to customers of Bing Ads service to learn how the changes will impact their personal information and their relationship with Microsoft.

Microsoft 2014 email on Privacy & Service agreement changes

While the email doesn't cover exactly how the text of an agreement was updated, providing just a summary of these changes seems to be a good starting point, especially considering the space constraint of an email notification.

Here's what we can learn from this email that Microsoft sent:

  • The title of the email. It's very clear on what the email is about: "We're updating our terms of use and privacy statement".
  • Design. The 2 icons, with the "Privacy" and the "Transparency" titles draws attention to the summaries of what was changed in both agreements.

    The "Privacy" summary informs how the change will impact a user, but it doesn't show the exact changes:

    As part of our ongoing commitment to respecting your privacy, we won't use your documents, photos or other personal files or what you say in email, chat, video calls or voice mail to target advertising to you.

    The "Transparency" summary mentions that Microsoft's "Code of Conduct" was updated with "types of behaviors that could affect your account" and that parents are responsible for a children's use of Microsoft account and services:

    We updated our Code of Conduct so you can better understand the types of behaviors that could affect your account, and added language that parents are responsible for minor children's use of Microsoft account and services, including purchases.

    This last section doesn't expand on what type of behaviors can affect a Microsoft account and how. The new section was added specifically for parents to know that they are responsible for their kid's use of their parent's account, including any purchases made through the account.

  • Effective date. Another very important section to add in an update notice is when the changes to the agreements will take effect:

    The new updates to these will take effect on July 31, 2014. If you continue to use our services after July 31, 2014, you agree to the updated terms or, if you don't agree, you can cancel your service at any time.

  • The last 2 buttons redirect users to Microsoft's new and updated Privacy Policy and Services Agreement.

Here are a few takeaways if you plan to use email to announce changes to your Privacy Policy, Terms of Service or other legal agreements that govern the relationship between you and users:

  • Make it clear what the announcement email is about
  • Inform users why the changes are required to the legal agreements
  • Inform users how the changes will affect them and their accounts, including if there's an impact on their personal information stored on you, i.e. the collected data will be used differently
  • Inform users when the changes will come into effect

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