Following hot on the heels of Google's recent announcement that their PREF cookies will now expire after 2 years, Microsoft has announced an enhanced set of privacy principles for Live Search and online advertising data collection, use and protection.

The principles outline new steps to help protect the privacy of Microsoft Windows Live users, including making search query data anonymous after 18 months by permanently removing cookie IDs, the entire IP address and other identifiers from search terms.

Microsoft state that they will also work to give customers more control over what information it uses to personalise their online search experience.

"We have been thinking deeply about privacy related to search and online advertising and believe it is critical to evolve our privacy principles", said Peter Cullen, chief privacy strategist at Microsoft.

"We believe our enhanced principles should be part of the industry dialogue on this issue and that keeping these issues as simple as possible for consumers is the best approach. For instance, on search data, anonymous should mean anonymous."

Microsoft has also joined forces with in a request to the industry for open talks about privacy issues.

"Microsoft and are proposing that leading search providers, online advertising companies and privacy advocates convene to engage in an active dialogue to discuss privacy considerations posed by the proliferation of online advertising and search."