The EU's data protection agency has launched a formal probe of Microsoft's new policies, IDG reports. In a statement to the news agency, Microsoft confirmed that it was notified by the Article 29 Working Party, which investigates and gives advice on compliance with the EU's data protection laws. The probe is meant to determine whether October changes to Microsoft's services agreement created privacy risks for users, something Microsoft has consistently denied. "In updating the Microsoft Services Agreement we did not change our privacy policy," Microsoft spokesman Robin Koch now tells IDG: "We are confident they will find Microsoft's long-standing commitment to privacy has not changed. And we're happy to answer any questions the officials may have."

Among other things, Microsoft's new services agreement lets it integrate user content from cloud services like SkyDrive and Office.com across different tools. It's reminiscent of Google's unified privacy policy, which prompted harsh condemnation in Europe earlier this year. That doesn't, however, mean that Microsoft will necessarily run into the same problems, since Google was slammed for offering "incomplete" information or not allowing for meaningful consent, not just combining data. Gerard Lommel, a Luxembourg official whose agency started a preliminary review in October, has previously said that while "clear privacy issues had been identified" with Google's agreement, issues with Microsoft's "can neither be excluded nor confirmed."