Microsoft giving out Free Vista Ultimate, Office software for an extensive survey

In a matter of hours, Microsoft has apparently closed and re-started a program aimed at recruiting volunteers for its Windows Feedback Program.

This morning, Computerworld reported that Microsoft had withdrew the offer of free copies of Windows Vista Ultimate and Office 2007 business suite - worth several hundred pounds - for what is essentially a monitoring scheme, due to very high demands.

But the website was still up and running and I was still able to complete the 10 minute survey and download the software needed to participate.

The program allows Microsoft to find out which are the features that the volunteers use the most as well as (hopefully) help them simplify their software.

Users can also suggest new capabilities that can improve the overall platform experience; they will be asked to participate in a survey feedback program and an automated feedback program for three months.

However, the offer ends on the 31st of December and there are a number of restrictions like

* Participation is currently limited to US residents of 18 years and older.

* You are the owner of the computer you use for this program.

* The automated feedback program is offered to Windows Vista and Windows XP customers only.

* The survey feedback program applies to all versions of Windows.

* Microsoft, comScore, and MarketTools employees are not eligible to participate.