Microsoft Boxes Note: This deal is for United States residents only.

If you’ve been wanting Vista or Microsoft Office but the price is a little to steep to keep you from buying, here’s your chance to get it.  Microsoft is “giving away” (and I use that term loosely) a variety of different software including Vista and Office if you are willing to participate in their Windows Feedback Program for three months. Engadget described it as giving up your privacy and your dignity, but in reality, for most of you, it’s really not that big of a deal and could be a great way to get your hands on free software.

There are two portions to the program and you have to participate in both for three months to be eligible for the free software. The first is “The survey Feedback program” in which you’ll take surveys on a regular basis (about every two weeks). The second portion is the “automated feedback program” in which Microsoft will gather information automatically about your usage after you install some software. I know many of you are going to be skeptical of allowing Microsoft to automatically access your computer (read their privacy section here), and you’re probably wondering what kind of information they’ll collect. Here are a few examples:

  • Windows settings and usage, such as the number of user accounts on the computer and the view settings for Control Panel (that is, if you use the default Category view or the Classic view to display Control Panel).
  • Details about your computer hardware, such as processor type and speed (as well as the number of processors), system memory, video memory, and other hardware configuration information.
  • File and folder information, such as the number of files and folders located in common places (for example, in Documents).
  • Which programs you open (for example, which application you use to read your e-mail).
  • Changes you make to your hardware or software.
  • Problems you encounter, such as application crashes.

What’s nice is that you can withdraw from the program by contacting them and removing the software from your computer at any point if you don’t want to participate. You just won’t get the “reward” at the end.  And speaking of reward, here are the software options that you’ll be able to choose. Whichever one you choose, it will be mailed to you at the end of the three months:

  • Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007
  • Microsoft Money Plus Premium
  • Microsoft Student with Encarta Premium 2008
  • Microsoft Streets and Trips 2008

You can be using XP or Vista to participate in the program, and you must be a resident of the US and be over 18 years old. If you meet those requirements, head on over to the Windows Feedback Program website and get more details. Oh, and you have to sign up before the end of the year.

Thanks for the tip S!