Personal info is the price you pay
by cpmgrp - 6/23/12 11:58 AM
I am a "keep it to myself' sort of person. Read the terms of service and Privacy statements from the web-based provider. If you're OK with them, fine you get all the benefits mentioned in other replies.
However most have reciprocal agreements with one another (Facebook being the big dog) and share among themselves. This enables them to access your FB, Yahoo and other sites you use. They can also track your movements from those places where you check-in; or your GPS (if equipped).
Other privacy issues are numerous and of concern - at least to me. I've been shopping for both a new computer and phone recently; within a day or so, all the ads on web pages I visited (that accept advertising) were for various computers and/or cell phones (including FB). In fact the ads for computers stopped when I made a purchase from Dell. Coincidence? Nah, this is one way they make money and I don't fault them for it - I've done it myself (below).
A friend's daughter works for a company that sells these services (and makes VERY good money at it), "We track usage Mr. Marketing Guy-from-big-company and can put that usage to work for you. For instance, if we see that a user at ISP X is visiting cell phone or computer or convertible-automobile sites/pages, or checking ratings on tech review sites (ahem, sorry Lee), we'll match your ads to that ISP." Nothing wrong with it, because however inadvertent, you've given them permission.
Another way some sites make money is by selling information about you (or your ISP address). Ever notice that you can "easily" log-in to a site using FB, Yahoo etc? That's because, by doing so, you give them permission to pass along certain information about potential customers in their demographic target. I'm retired now, but my company sold very narrow lists of potential listeners for radio station direct mail campaigns using all sorts of data we'd purchase on our clients' behalf - and they were amazingly accurate. We could narrow potential listeners right down to block code and neighborhood levels. Some of this info was available from the USPS.
I'm not saying there's anything wrong with this, including the site you are currently viewing (I should say especially this site... ;<) it just depends on how much information you're willing to have available to most anyone who wants to buy it. We're surrounded by advertising, that's why we get free TV/Radio and certain websites. The choice is yours: convenience vs. privacy.
BTW TO ClissaT (if this hasn't already been answered): Outlook is a part of MS Office. Older versions, and open source look-a-likes, may be available for download. They may work, they may not. I recently switched to W7 and find LiveMail perfectly acceptable. Outlook Express which I used for years, has been discontinued.