Seriously. I work at Microsoft... if someone thinks the company is dithering over itself to break customer trust, they've been sold a bill of goods. Customer PII (Personally Identifying Information) is heavily cordoned off, even for internal use. I had to go through multiple hours of training and had my use cases vetted by our legal department before I could even begin to look at some of it (as ambiguous as what country was identification number #23422344 from, for ensuring our game had good network support across various regions).
Sounds like Microsoft had two options:
- Fight the request in a secret court.
- Comply and ensure that only specific user records were retrieved under Microsoft guidance, with a government (if secret) paper trail.
And there's nothing that says #1 didn't happen. The only reason you're seeing this letter now is that they're gambling the gag order doesn't apply to vaguely worded requests now that Snowden's leaks have made this a public dialog.
All of the above is IMHO and not representative of my corporate overlords, of course.