Microsoft wants to be able to "find the location of every Windows Phone device in the world"

Microsoft has posted up a new job listing that states it is looking for an individual to help them track every single Windows Phone device even without the aid of GPS. This job description comes in contrast to a recent statement where they denied tracking claims in a recent class action lawsuit.

The posting went live on Microsoft’s career search page today and indicates that they want an individual to help track their Windows Phone devices all over the world. The posting is clear and to the point by stating:

 The team is looking for highly motivated, extremely intelligent, and deeply technical people to build the core location service platform. We are tasked with delivering a highly scalable service to find the location of every Windows Phone device in the world, either by assisting GPS, or by using signal-analysis techniques to compute location where GPS cannot. You will work closely with MSR and other research groups to improve our algorithms for mining large amounts of data using Bayesian analysis and other machine learning techniques. We have incredibly hard problems to solve in the coming year such as solving the indoor positioning problem as well as motion detection and relevance based positioning.

The service could be similar to the “Find my iPhone” that Apple currently uses to find lost or stolen iPhones. This is speculation only at this point as the job description does not indicate that would be the purpose for this type of service, but it does seem to make a bit of sense.

Considering that this type of tool will link closely with cloud based services, Microsoft may be looking to capitalize on its cloud technologies to deliver a competing service to Apple’s “Find my iPhone” application that goes beyond what Apple is able to offer. Windows Phone currently has a find my phone service, but may be looking to enhance its features.

While the true reasoning behind the job posting is not currently known, it is clear that Microsoft wants to be able to find it’s devices anywhere in the World without the need for GPS. Go ahead and put your tinfoil hats on, but this is most likely service related and not a government conspiracy act.

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What is wrong with you? The article sounds like Microsoft is collecting all the data to know exactly where you are at any time, but the job description sounds to me that they are trying to get locations fast, correct and with low power consumption on the phone itself even if some services are unavailable or turned of.
"This job description comes in contrast to a recent statement where they denied tracking claims in a recent class action lawsuit."
The comparison to the lawsuit is in my opinion out of context, because nothing tells about collecting the data of the new location services.

I personally think that this is just a way to augment the GPS capabilities...is there something wrong with a company trying to provide better location services to their users? I highly doubt that they'll use this to track a user who has explicitely checked "No" when asked about location data; it's probably just a way to make location data, WHEN AUTHORIZED, much more accurate.

The service could be similar to the “Find my iPhone” that Apple currently uses

1) Why do people always reference an Apple feature?

2) Apple didn't invent this concept, Microsoft had location tracking in devices before the iPhone existed,

3) This shows either the insanity of public perception or a severe lack of technical knowledge.

Here is a hint, if you have to reference an Apple product's feature to make a point, you might want to do a search on the Internet first. The odds that Apple invented, created, innovated, or had any relevance to the majority of technology is about a million to one.

It is not only factually misleading, it also discredits all the people and innovators that originated the technologies. When you take an old technology and move the reference point to a very recent Apple product, it also destroys the lineage of the technology and creates a false point in the time line of technology.

Without searching for this topic specifically, I do know that Microsoft and other companies have used tracking and tower triangulation technologies before Apple was even bailed out by Microsoft in 1997, let alone before the iPhone changed the world by doing nothing new.

Microsoft didn't invent this concept either, but I bet a 5 minute internet search could get you the correct reference point of the technology.

Here is food for thought, a free phone back in 2003 had the 'find my phone' feature through Verizon, and if you enabled it for your Family users, you could use it to even see a map of where your kids were and had been.

So do you see why it is bit sad that you provide a 'reference' to a less functional feature on Apple's iPhone as a reference point to the technology?

Crap, pure crap...


PS Microsoft wanting to increase the accuracy of location does not state they will 'force' users to turn this feature on.

There are reasons people DO want tracking to be more accurate inside buildings. Think about friends wanting to find each other in huge Mall for example, would be a nice feature if it worked better than just pulling up the Mall's address on a map.(Hint, Microsoft Bing has Mall Maps...)

thenetavenger said,

It is not only factually misleading, it also discredits all the people and innovators that originated the technologies. When you take an old technology and move the reference point to a very recent Apple product, it also destroys the lineage of the technology and creates a false point in the time line of technology.

Just this paragraph right here is enough of a win on its own. What I've been saying for years, really. It's like people believe that Apple invented these things...

PlogCF said,

Just this paragraph right here is enough of a win on its own. What I've been saying for years, really. It's like people believe that Apple invented these things...

+1 And it discredits Neowun as an informed source...

It's not that Apple invented it, but they got the name recognition, joe public aligns better to Apple than any other company.

can't they just be doing research? why does everyone assume they are trying to take over the world.

Why do so many people freak out over this? Who gives a crap if people know where you are, What are you doing that requires that you cant ever or want to ever have you were about not known?

im not surprised by this one bit. its hard to be totally anonymous in this day and age, even phones pre smart phone era can be tracked. Tracking is not all a bad thing I mean if your phone is stolen or even purely for research statistics to see where the highest phone usage is.

[Quote]The service could be similar to the “Find my iPhone” that Apple currently uses to find lost or stolen iPhones.[/quote]

Or similar to Microsoft's own Find My Phone service that was available on WinMo and is built into WP7...

Way to be educated on the content Neowin... LOL

They reall need to work on their location service because it makes Maps somewhat useless. It takes forever to lock on to a the satalites, it it ever does. And then when it does, you have to be mindful about it because it my lose it at any moment. Even at home, right next to my router and a giant sliding glass windows, and it still only give me an estimate of where I am when sitting inside. It wont even give you directions until it find an accurate enough location so you just have to sit there and wait. It often times out and just tells you it can't find the location information. iOS location services is a lot stronger.

wixostrix said,
They reall need to work on their location service because it makes Maps somewhat useless. It takes forever to lock on to a the satalites, it it ever does. And then when it does, you have to be mindful about it because it my lose it at any moment. Even at home, right next to my router and a giant sliding glass windows, and it still only give me an estimate of where I am when sitting inside. It wont even give you directions until it find an accurate enough location so you just have to sit there and wait. It often times out and just tells you it can't find the location information. iOS location services is a lot stronger.

Weird, our labs show the iPhone to be the least accurate when testing location tracking using both GPS, WiFi referencing, and tower location services.

If you are sitting next to your router, do you realize this has almost no relation to the tracking technology, as the WiFi IP reference is fairly generic right now since most home users have dynamic IPs, etc?

The whole point is that 'inside' there is very little to use to track where you are standing, and this is what Microsoft is working to improve, as the technology is using GPS bounces and/or tower triangulation tricks. Microsoft nor Apple have ANY idea where your WiFI router is sitting in your home unless you emailed them a picture of your floor plan with a big red X where your router is located.

thenetavenger said,

Weird, our labs show the iPhone to be the least accurate when testing location tracking using both GPS, WiFi referencing, and tower location services.

If you are sitting next to your router, do you realize this has almost no relation to the tracking technology, as the WiFi IP reference is fairly generic right now since most home users have dynamic IPs, etc?

The whole point is that 'inside' there is very little to use to track where you are standing, and this is what Microsoft is working to improve, as the technology is using GPS bounces and/or tower triangulation tricks. Microsoft nor Apple have ANY idea where your WiFI router is sitting in your home unless you emailed them a picture of your floor plan with a big red X where your router is located.


+1

thenetavenger said,

Weird, our labs show the iPhone to be the least accurate when testing location tracking using both GPS, WiFi referencing, and tower location services.

If you are sitting next to your router, do you realize this has almost no relation to the tracking technology, as the WiFi IP reference is fairly generic right now since most home users have dynamic IPs, etc?

The whole point is that 'inside' there is very little to use to track where you are standing, and this is what Microsoft is working to improve, as the technology is using GPS bounces and/or tower triangulation tricks. Microsoft nor Apple have ANY idea where your WiFI router is sitting in your home unless you emailed them a picture of your floor plan with a big red X where your router is located.

Well when I was using an iPod touch 4g a few weeks ago, whenever I opened maps to get my location it always gave me an accurate location and was able to give me directions to wherever. But with my Windows Phone, even outside with nothing blocking my phones view of the sky, and it still took forever for the gps to lock on and wont give me directions until it gets a strong enough signal, which could take minutes. It's very annoying when someone is driving and you're trying to quickly find where you are and get going in the direction you need to be.

I know my IP address has no corolation to my location because Comcast provides us with dynamic IPs, but I just thought it used WiFi networks as well to triangulate your location and the fact that it knows my network and should be able to get a good enough idea of where I'm at, based on passed location information when connected to this network, to give me directions.

You don't even have to register your Pay as You Go phone. All you need to do is just spend couple nights with it in your house and company will attach your address and name to your phone. I bet Tony Soprano and his friends would be happy with a such service.

just put a darn true GPS chip in the darn thing and use Lat and Lon, how hard is it? why do we always have to triangulate and wifi snoop to "figure out location" just use the darn GPS system that already exists and works fine

and a location GPS can't fnd? if its underground or in a building, more then likely a wifi triangulated guess isn't going to be anymore accurate then the last GPS location it recieved

Stewart Gilligan Griffin said,
just put a darn true GPS chip in the darn thing and use Lat and Lon, how hard is it? why do we always have to triangulate and wifi snoop to "figure out location" just use the darn GPS system that already exists and works fine

and a location GPS can't fnd? if its underground or in a building, more then likely a wifi triangulated guess isn't going to be anymore accurate then the last GPS location it recieved

the only problem I can think of here is the increased power consumption if having the gps run at all times

Stewart Gilligan Griffin said,
just put a darn true GPS chip in the darn thing and use Lat and Lon, how hard is it? why do we always have to triangulate and wifi snoop to "figure out location" just use the darn GPS system that already exists and works fine

and a location GPS can't fnd? if its underground or in a building, more then likely a wifi triangulated guess isn't going to be anymore accurate then the last GPS location it recieved

A "true" GPS can take quite a long time to get a fixed signal from the GPS sats, and takes quite a bit of power.

AGPS is used for a faster time to first fix, it also has uses in areas where satellite signals have difficulty propagating. This is more than just in a parkade, this is inside a building (GPS, for example, can be handy in Calgary's +15 network) or even in a downtown that has plenty of tall buildings. A few years ago, I did a road trip with a friend to Toronto, to help us, he had a backpack GPS unit (a "True" GPS) that we hooked up to my laptop, since we didn't have a smartphone or a driving GPS. When we got to downtown Toronto, we could not get enough satellites on the GPS for it to know where we were, the buildings where blocking the signals. An AGPS unit, on the other hand, would not have had those issues. In downtown, it may not have been as accurate as outside the core, but it would not have failed all together

greenwizard88 said,
There is a "true" GPS in the darn thing. This is to use less power, be available indoors, and more accurate.

I find it very hard to believe they can get it more accurate indoors using WiFi locations

Stewart Gilligan Griffin said,

I find it very hard to believe they can get it more accurate indoors using WiFi locations

Well seeing as normal GPS can't readily penetrate buildings, it does help.

i don't want microsoft to know where i am, what i'm doing. what is this? where are my rights? somebody should sue them. /s

Sas Center said,
i don't want microsoft to know where i am, what i'm doing. what is this? where are my rights? somebody should sue them. /s
They should be, but nobody will because it's people like you who will ruin it for everybody. Anything that involves storing personally identifiable information by an entity without explicit permission should be illegal.

Edited by Jebadiah, Sep 7 2011, 3:14am :

Jebadiah said,
They should be, but nobody will because it's people like you who will ruin it for everybody. Anything that involves storing personally identifiable information by an entity without explicit permission should be illegal.

Huh? They aren't doing it without your permission or knowledge. The problem with you people, you prefer picture drawn with crayon instead of reading.

Before you activate the device, there is a EULA to read. When you activate the phone you agree to whatever is there even if you dont read it. The reason car dealers, mortgage lenders and others get over on people os peopel dont read. Then they look soooooo stupid when you do somethign to them that si legal and they say they didn't know you could. Well you would if you read.

Fact - if everyone actually read the agreement when you apply for a credit card, you wouldn't want one. Wht banks can do to you with credit cards should be a crime. Teh reaosn people in the USA got burn on mortagage deals is because they arent as smart as they think they are.

When I bought a home back in 1999, I was told for every $100,000 the home cost I needed an income of at least $35k. With infaltion I am sure you need at last $5k for that same home. Yet these fools who barly make $60k or $70k were being told they could afford a $300k home on a VRM (variable rate mortgage). There s no way. Bec as soon as Greensoan raises the rates, you could end up paying triple. A $2000 a month payment is now over $5000.

And its perfectly leagal because you agreed. You were so frantic to get the house that you just sign.

The reason companyy's like Microsoft and Apple and Google get over on consumers because you dont educate yourselfs. The info you need to know is right in front of you. I watched people buy a phone and when the screen pops up that you have to agree, they just press yes and kep going. They dont even skim over the gist of whats there. They have no idea.

If Microsoft is tracking you, its in the EULA. If you agree you are bound to the terms of the service provided.

When they disable this, people will cry when they lose their devices, that there is no way to find the devices because the tracking has been disabled due to "privacy fears". It's not like Microsoft is a terrorist corp.

ozgeek said,
When they disable this, people will cry when they lose their devices, that there is no way to find the devices because the tracking has been disabled due to "privacy fears". It's not like Microsoft is a terrorist corp.

Nah, as long as you have insurance.

ozgeek said,
When they disable this, people will cry when they lose their devices, that there is no way to find the devices because the tracking has been disabled due to "privacy fears". It's not like Microsoft is a terrorist corp.

Hmmm funny... I can turn off all location services on the phone which I'm sure don't transmit any location services at all. If I need to trace my phone I can log in my live account and force the tracking if needed. If anything I feel safer with this setup then Apple's offerings.

Zain Adeel said,
I want a service which will tell me where my phone is even when the data or wifi connection is disabled.


GPS

UndergroundWire said,

How about if GPS is disabled. Normally, this is disabled.

The list could go on... "How about without my battery in?" ...

Considering the lawsuit against them and the public backlash agasint big brother, you think they would choose some better wording.

gregalto said,
Considering the lawsuit against them and the public backlash agasint big brother, you think they would choose some better wording.

Why? So that the media thinks differently?

gregalto said,
Considering the lawsuit against them and the public backlash agasint big brother, you think they would choose some better wording.

Why? So that the media thinks differently?

gregalto said,
Considering the lawsuit against them and the public backlash agasint big brother, you think they would choose some better wording.

OR the media could just do their jobs properly.

They already offer a "competing find my iphone service".

I would have read this is as just to improve the accuracy and speed at which the phone can locate itself.

Nero3000 said,
They already offer a "competing find my iphone service".

I would have read this is as just to improve the accuracy and speed at which the phone can locate itself.

Basically what you said

Nero3000 said,
They already offer a "competing find my iphone service".

And they have for a few years might I add, even on Windows Mobile 6.5.

~Johnny said,

And they have for a few years might I add, even on Windows Mobile 6.5.

With WM 6.5 you had the ability to activate and deactivate the service. if this feature will remain I do not see a problem, if not....... well it would be a different story but I honestly do not see this latter scenario as a realistic one.
What I would also lie to see very much is MS hiring someone to bring back the ability to backup SMS; this is really overdue.

Apparently Brad Adam never own a windows phone to know enough about it. The Find My Phone is already in Windows Phone since day 1. Heck this feature was in WinMo6.5 when nobody was worrying about privacy bs....but hey, I heard Steve also invented Brad Sams, so what's to argue about...

flexkeyboard said,
Apparently Brad Adam never own a windows phone to know enough about it. The Find My Phone is already in Windows Phone since day 1. Heck this feature was in WinMo6.5 when nobody was worrying about privacy bs....but hey, I heard Steve also invented Brad Sams, so what's to argue about...

It was also available for WinMo 6.1... I'm really amazed at the misinformation within Neowin...