Relax – Microsoft Gatineau Demographic information is well protected

Finally Microsoft is officially providing information about how they track, process and manipulate Demographic data for the Microsoft Gatineau Demographics report (view white paper here). Thanks Ian for this information!

The process is as follows:

1- Once a new user register to Windows Live or MSN a LiveID and an ANID (Anonymous ID)are generated simultaneously.

2- The ANID is derived by applying a one-way cryptographic hash function to the LiveID. A one-way cryptographic hash function ensures that there is no practical way of deriving the original value from the resulting hash value—that is, the process cannot be reversed to obtain the original number..

3- Each time a registered user logs in, Microsoft’s system applies the hash function to the LiveID to generate an ANID, and each ID is put in a separate cookie on the computer.

4- The advantage of using a one-way cryptographic hash function is that although the same number is guaranteed to be generated each time it is applied to a given LiveID, it is virtually impossible to reverse the process. In other words, it is extremely difficult to use a given ANID (with or without knowing the hashing algorithm) to derive the original LiveID value. Because all personally and directly identifying information about a user is stored on servers in association with a LiveID rather than an ANID, there is no practical way to link data stored in association with an ANID back to any data on Microsoft servers that could personally and directly identify an individual user.


  1. Thanks for your comment Tanguillo! As soon as I get my beta I´ll be reviewing it in detail, probably we can get more information about it. Anyways I see you have a well defined point of view regarding Microsoft 🙂

  2. Hi Andy, do you mean an API? If so I’m positive about it but not sure if they are offering this feature with the beta version. The Beta version was thought as a very basic version, but apparently Ian and his team become very enthusiast about the project and wanted to launch most of its features with this first version. For example the demographic information was planned from the beginning not to be launched with the beta version.
    I hope this helps, if not feel free to drop me another comment.

  3. You are right Andy, unfortunately the information about the beta is, apparently, very restricted and I don’t know anyone that has already invited to the beta version 🙁
    It’s also important to mention that I’ve been told from someone from yahoo that they are also planning to develop (or buy, same thing 😉 ) an analytics tool. Gatineau and the one from Yahoo (along with GA) will generate a very healthy competition in the Free Web Analytics providers market, and I’m sure that integration will be one of the features that will generate more competence between them.
    Remember that there are very smart people behind those tools, all very focused on Analytics 2.0. Google with Avinash (, and Gatineau with Ian ( (off course that there are another smart people behind those tools).

    You can get more information about Gatineau in the Gatineau official Forum at where Brian will be very kind to answer all your questions (but keep visiting Analytics 2.0!!!)

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