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Microsoft's Ad Team Trumps IE Developers' Privacy Aims

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the sounds-like-a-movie-script dept.

Internet Explorer 149

phantomfive writes "The company everyone loves to hate is after your private information, as the Wall Street Journal reports. The IE8 design team had planned on adding the best privacy features available, but the advertising executives wanted to track users. From the story: 'In the end, the product planners lost a key part of the debate. The winners: executives who argued that giving automatic privacy to consumers would make it tougher for Microsoft to profit from selling online ads. Microsoft built its browser so that users must deliberately turn on privacy settings every time they start up the software.'"

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149 comments

Surprised? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33108724)

Hardly..

Re:Surprised? (2, Insightful)

x2A (858210) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108742)

IT'S A TRAP!!!

I mean, in other browsers that have 'private' browsing modes (like Chrome's 'incognito' mode) don't you turn it on each time you launch it? What's different about IE here?

Re:Surprised? (5, Insightful)

dc29A (636871) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108784)

You can modify the shortcut for IE or Chrome to start in private/incognito mode all the time (no need to set it on each program startup). Problem is, 99% of the planet wouldn't know/understand how to do this and this is the issue, if geeks can avoid tracking with ad blocking and incognito mode and whatnot, the average browser user can't. If IE really wanted to distance themselves from other browsers, they would have made privacy an opt-out feature, instead an opt-in.

Re:Surprised? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33108830)

Except there are reasons that the average person would not want to have privacy/incognito mode enabled by default, since it blocks cookies, history, saved credentials and several other things that people use every day.

Re:Surprised? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33108884)

Or because the average user is running around the Internet looking for instant gratification and simply won't learn about security. You might as well try to teach a clown with a condom on his nose.

Re:Surprised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33108958)

Why does it become harder to train a clown when it has a condom on its nose?

Re:Surprised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33109728)

Because it feels better without one?

Re:Surprised? (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 3 years ago | (#33109850)

You know clowns, always sticking their nose into something. Once they have protection it's very hard to recapture their attention...

Couldn't That Change Though? (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108986)

Or because the average user is running around the Internet looking for instant gratification and simply won't learn about security.

But what if that's changing?

We can bitch and moan about how worthless Facebook is but these privacy debacles seem to finally be waking people up to the real issues at stake. Thankfully to raise this issue it took just a few sensitive pictures of some fools to get out after they posted them to the world instead of a totally invasive all knowing nexus of everyone's everything. Seems like the past 20 or so years it's slowly been getting worse and worse on the internet. And now WSJ has this huge "expose" called What They Know [wsj.com] with an intuitive display of what's affecting you [wsj.com] without your knowledge. And that indicates that WSJ thinks people want to hear about this and that it will sell eyeballs. I say it's about damned time. I hope it doesn't stop here with Microsoft or even stop at browsers. It should continue from websites all the way back to The Patriot Act. Hopefully the spirit of privacy from government and corporations has merely been sleeping in Americans and not completely dead/relinquished. Unfortunately they say it's always much harder to win back liberties lost than to give them up.

Re:Couldn't That Change Though? (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#33109088)

uh, people will start debating logically (which probably won't happen in our lifetime), before they start realizing privacy issues are a big deal.

Slowly a small amount of people wisen up to everything each year aka start using logic, but I wouldn't call it a consistent majority or even heading near it.

Honestly, until windows loses it's majority (reality is like 60-70% of the world is on windows and 30% is on linux, while every internet user does something that involves both every single day), people are not going to understand what it means about privacy until they first get their privacy *back* in the first place.

Re:Surprised? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 3 years ago | (#33109008)

Or because the average user is running around the Internet looking for instant gratification and simply won't learn about security.

Right, because it is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL that my Slashdot account not get hacked...

I like websites remembering my settings, thank you. And I like the "awesome bar" in Firefox. So they can go ahead and track me and try to get me to click on things. I hope they are also tracking my use of AdBlock.

Re:Surprised? (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 3 years ago | (#33109198)

That's just ignorant... take for example, on one website, I put that I was 'male' interested in 'females', BUT what I didn't know was that I was being SPIED ON and this information was being made available to selecting which adverts were being displayed, so when they show me 'dating' adverts, they show me pics of cute girls instead of guys!!! OMG!! Invasion of my privacy or WHAT?!! I've never felt so violated!! *violently throws up for two whole minutes* now excuse me while I go sit in the shower, sobbing and hugging my knees :'-(

Re:Surprised? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#33109920)

History and saved credentials should not be a problem privacy-wise. That are exactly the details a browser should never give to the web site you are browsing. This info is kept on your own computer, and save browser bugs stay there.

Cookies are another matter: they are designed to do just that, give info to the web site you visit. Third-party cookies are a problem imho, cookies from the web site you are visiting not so much. Actually I like it when a web site that I visit often keeps track of my preferences.

Re:Surprised? (5, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108790)

A bit. It shows a lack of political awareness from the IE team. They could easily have got the features in if they'd pointed out to management that 'giving automatic privacy to consumers would make it tougher for Microsoft to profit from selling online ads' also means 'giving automatic privacy to consumers would make it tougher for Google to profit from selling online ads.'

Re:Surprised? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33109074)

Thus demonstrating that collusion is a stronger force than competition.

Re:Surprised? (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#33109104)

microsoft's modus operandi has been the same from day one. cut off one's nose to spite the face, even internally.

Poor argument. (3, Insightful)

raehl (609729) | more than 3 years ago | (#33110118)

Microsoft's primary goal is to make money. Their primary goal is not to make Google make less money.

Microsoft and Google make more money is better for Microsoft than Microsoft and Google make less money, even if the less disproportionately affects Google.

What do they need tracking in IE8 for (-1, Troll)

Netshroud (1856624) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108726)

when they have WGA/WPA?

Re:What do they need tracking in IE8 for (5, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108762)

when they have WGA/WPA?

The article is focusing on this:

The Journal's examination of the top 50 most popular U.S. websites showed that Microsoft placed third-party tracking devices on 27 of the top 46 sites that it doesn't itself own.

It's about tracking your movements/interests, harvesting that data and then using that data to advertise to you better ... which usually means handing it off to those advertisers to better target you. And they're not the only ones:

Many also have big stakes in online advertising. Microsoft bought aQuantive, a Web-ad firm, in 2007 for more than $6 billion, to build a business selling ads online. Google, already a giant in online marketing, in September 2008 launched a Web browser, Chrome, that gives it new insight into Internet users' habits. Apple has launched an ad network, iAds, for its iPhone and iPad. And Adobe last year paid $1.8 billion to buy Omniture, which measures the effectiveness of online ads.

WGA/WPA isn't going to get a hold of this kind of data. That's a sort of digital rights management for validating Windows, not tracking users with cookies and making bank off of it. They profit when they sell you Windows (with IE8) and they'll profit when you use IE8 on the internet.

Business as usual (2, Insightful)

koh (124962) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108732)

Microsoft built its browser so that users must deliberately turn on privacy settings every time they start up the software.

And how exactly is this different than what Chrome or Firefox does? Last time I checked, you had to actively enable the privacy feature for each session in all browsers...

Re:Business as usual (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33108760)

The difference is that Microsoft is evil and Firefox is good, so there's no problem in Firefox violating my privacy...

Re:Business as usual (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33108806)

Microsoft built its browser so that users must deliberately turn on privacy settings every time they start up the software.

And how exactly is this different than what Chrome or Firefox does? Last time I checked, you had to actively enable the privacy feature for each session in all browsers...

You must've been using a trunk build of Firefox last time you checked, then, because Firefox has always had "Never remember history" or "Permanent Private Browsing mode" so that your browser fell into private mode automatically on boot. Where is this option on Internet Explorer? Please tell me, cause I can't find it.

Re:Business as usual (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 3 years ago | (#33110214)

You must've been using a trunk build of Firefox last time you checked, then, because Firefox has always had "Never remember history"... Where is this option on Internet Explorer? Please tell me, cause I can't find it.

Tools, Internet Options, Browsing history section's Settings button, Days to keep pages in history (set to 0 to have it not remember any).

Firefox has always had... "Permanent Private Browsing mode" so that your browser fell into private mode automatically on boot.

Firefox didn't even have Private Browsing mode until 3.5 [mozilla.com] (released June 30, 2009 [mozilla.com]), so saying it always had it is a bit disingenuous at best.

Re:Business as usual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33110312)

Tools, Internet Options, Browsing history section's Settings button, Days to keep pages in history (set to 0 to have it not remember any).

So does that delete cookies, temporary files, search and form history and download history like Firefox does? Because then it's not even comparable.

Firefox didn't even have Private Browsing mode until 3.5 [mozilla.com] (released June 30, 2009 [mozilla.com]), so saying it always had it is a bit disingenuous at best.

/facepalm. Obviously I meant at the time the feature was implemented. Do I need to specifically remind you that we're talking about IE8, too, or are you going to be okay figuring that one out by yourself?

Re:Business as usual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33110368)

Parent here. Looks like those settings don't actually start you in a private browsing session at all. I'm not sure why you even mention them.

Re:Business as usual (3, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108824)

There are ways to make all of them launch in private by adding a extra flag in Windows program dialog. For FireFox and IE it's "-private". For Chrome it's "-incognito". FireFox allows you the option to start in private browsing mode automatically by changing a setting in browser. This is easier for non-advanced users.

Re:Business as usual (-1, Redundant)

koh (124962) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108882)

You mean like the "-private" command line switch in IE (http://www.windowsvalley.com/internet-explorer-8-useful-command-line-arguments/)? Looks the same to me...

Re:Business as usual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33109012)

You mean like the "-private" command line switch in IE (http://www.windowsvalley.com/internet-explorer-8-useful-command-line-arguments/)? Looks the same to me...

you mean like 'You mean like the FireFox and IE it's "-private".'... like the person you are replying to says?

Reading comprehension... it's not your enemy.

Re:Business as usual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33109052)

Reading comprehension... it's not your enemy.

It would appear that it IS his enemy.

Re:Business as usual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33109234)

It's also my enemy.

And, by the way, his enemy.

Re:Business as usual (3, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#33109172)

Isn't Windows meant to be a graphical OS where you never need to use the CLI?
Isn't it Linux that's supposed to require the commandline to do anything remotely advanced?

Re:Business as usual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33109764)

So where's the GUI option for this? If it's not there, then clearly the developers lost, because they're the ones who should want their program to be usable by all. Limiting the straight-to-private functionality is only proving the article's point.

Re:Business as usual (1)

Mortlath (780961) | more than 3 years ago | (#33110560)

If the icon is pinned to the taskbar in Windows 7, you just right click and select "Start InPrivate Browsing"

Re:Business as usual (3, Informative)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108898)

What you fail to realize because you couldn't even RTFS is that in IE8 EVERY time you run the program you have to turn the privacy settings on, while in Firefox you set them once.

huh? (1, Troll)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108740)

When was Microsoft profiting from selling online ads? Maybe I just missed it, but I thought that they actually had real products and weren't just some spooty ad company trying to ingratiate themselves on the world with free swag? Actually, they hardly seem to have ingratiated themselves with anyone for any reason.

I wouldn't be surprised if the real reason is they're afraid that it would be seen as an anti-competitive move against Google, which is basically just a spooty ad company trying to ingratiate itself on the world with free swag. Otherwise, I see no reason for them not to make delivering ads 10x harder, thus sticking it to the GOOG.

Re:huh? (2, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108792)

When was Microsoft profiting from selling online ads?

2007 [techcrunch.com] and earlier.

I wouldn't be surprised if the real reason is they're afraid that it would be seen as an anti-competitive move against Google ...

Oh, it's very competitive [microsoft.com]. Whenever Microsoft arrives late to the game, you know they bring lots of money with them. Why has Bing Cashback stopped?

The problem with your post is that you can't imagine a company being both a "spooty ad company" and a company that actually makes actual products. You don't have to be one or the other.

Re:huh? (3, Interesting)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108804)

When was Microsoft profiting from selling online ads? Maybe I just missed it,

Bing is the #3 search engine. Microsoft owns Bing. Microsoft is a stable company with little prospects for growth (need proof? they've started paying dividends on their stock shares). Online search advertising is a growth market.
 
I'm not sure if I can reliably convey an answer to you in less than four sentences, but there's my shot. Maybe someone can do it in three?

Re:huh? (2, Insightful)

x2A (858210) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108814)

I thought the private modes disable things like cookies? So in private mode, you couldn't stay logged into any websites... sounds like a way for customer satisfaction to go down rather than up.

Re:huh? (1, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#33109128)

I wouldn't be surprised if the real reason is they're afraid that it would be seen as an anti-competitive move against Google, which is basically just a spooty ad company trying to ingratiate itself on the world with free swag

"Swag" is actually an acronym for "Stolen With A Gun". Somehow in modern useage it's morphed to mean "free stuff, no gun needed."

Arr, ye pirates be pissed that yer swag be without risk.

I think MS is shooting themselves in the foot here. Re-enable privacy settings for every session?

Otherwise, I see no reason for them not to make delivering ads 10x harder, thus sticking it to the GOOG.

IINM a lot of their stock is owned by Disney, and they're half of MSNBC. Not to mention their Bing. I suspect they were going to call it "Bling" in anticipation of all the $$$ it was going to raise, but somebody made a typo. But I think Bing is the primamry reason.

Re:huh? (3, Informative)

Nick Number (447026) | more than 3 years ago | (#33109300)

"Swag" is actually an acronym for "Stolen With A Gun".

I'm afraid that's a totally implausible backronym [wikipedia.org]. There's no mention of any such etymology in these references [reference.com], and I sort of doubt there is in the OED either.

Anytime someone suggests an acronym as an origin for a word which predates the 20th century, it's almost certainly false.

You are correct that "free swag" is redundant, though.

Re:huh? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#33110748)

Hmm... I just googled, and my comment came up first. The only references I can find is reddit (not a good citation at all), a comment from an AV club, and Sole Proprieter Magazine [solepropri...gazine.com].

SP: Can you tell us exactly what the origin of the word "swag" is?

SWAG: Good question. One story is that back in the pioneer days, when wagon trains were held up by bandits, the loot they got was "stolen with a gun". Others take it to mean "stuff we all get" which we like since that is what Swagtime is about.

I heard it from someone whose auto licence plates read "SWAG" about twenty years ago, which he proudly gave the explanation for.

Wikipedia says [wikipedia.org] "Swag may refer to...
Slang for free promotional items, referring to a thief or pirate's treasure, should not be pronounced as schwag. It is a popular backronym for Software and Giveaways, Stuff We All Get, or Souvenirs, Wearables, and Gifts."

I think wikipedia may be wrong about the "should not be pronounced as schwag"; KSHE radio was referring to their giveaways as "schwag" forty years ago, long before "Soft Ware And Giveaways" or wikipedia.

I was ignorant of the fact that the word also refers to cocaine.

Re:huh? (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 3 years ago | (#33109458)

"Swag" is actually an acronym for "Stolen With A Gun".

No, it's a word that predates guns. It refers to bag slung over the shoulder.

Re:huh? (1)

jafiwam (310805) | more than 3 years ago | (#33109590)

"SWAG" is an acronym.

"Swag", is a term used in modern times to be freely given stuff, enough you need a bag for it. Usually logo bearing marketing crap.

Re:huh? (1)

tiptone (729456) | more than 3 years ago | (#33110286)

SWAG - Stuff We All Get, the (generally free) crap handed out at conferences, trade shows, etc. At least that's been my understanding of the term for the last 15 years. Uh, pirates? Hic Sunt Dracones then... ;)

Shocking (1)

haydensdaddy (1719524) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108772)

A company that values revenues over customer satisfaction... this and other news at 11...

Re:Shocking (1)

psbrogna (611644) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108846)

You've hit the proverbial nail on the head. Valuing revenue over customers only works for a finite number of annual financial reports. More mature companies, even other evil ones, know that a retained customer is one of the best sources of revenue and especially of profit.

Re:Shocking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33110500)

Users aren't Microsoft's customers; OEMs are. OEMs don't have a problem with advertising. Some of them may even be the advertisers.

Woosh! (2, Insightful)

psbrogna (611644) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108798)

That noise, Mr. Ballmer, is the sound 10% browser market share makes when migrating to the competition.

I guess somebody thinks that knowing more about less eyeballs is more profitable. I suppose there's a possibility that may work for a while ... a short while.

Re:Woosh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33108842)

That noise, Mr. Ballmer, is the sound 10% browser market share makes when migrating to the competition.

To which competition?
Certainly not Chrome (Google's private-data-snaffling makes Microsoft look poisitivly minimalist by comparison).
Oh, but wait, Google Do No Evil so their grab of all your information is fine, I suppose?

Shit, then they'd only have 70% of the market. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33109750)

Well, that 70% would still be over twice as large as that of all competitors combined.

Oh, would you look at that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33108816)

'In the end, the product planners lost a key part of the debate. The winners: executives who argued that giving automatic privacy to consumers would make it tougher for Google to profit from selling online ads. Google built its browser so that users must deliberately turn on privacy settings every time they start up the software.'

I hate IE8 (3, Interesting)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108848)

IE8 fails for me for one simple reason, that stupid button to remove an entry from the address bar. The number of times I've clicked on the drop down button, moved the cursor down to the line I want and clicked, only for it to remove the entry rather than navigating to it. Why they couldn't they have put that icon on the left side instead is beyond me.

Granted I only use IE8 for testing our in-house software but it's still a hair pulling experience.

Re:I hate IE8 (1, Interesting)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108928)

Conversely a behaviour I hate in Firefox is when you 'miss' an url in the auto complete dropdown. Rather than either doing nothing or closing the dropdown (both reasonable behaviours), it has a habbit of trying to take you to the half typed url (eg. 'www.slashdot.c' )which is utterly useless and irritating.

Re:I hate IE8 (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 3 years ago | (#33109578)


Oh fuck me, that annoys the shit out of me. And IE annoys me because its cookie management is a pain. And Opera annoys me because sometimes I click a mouse button and it tries to search the web for whatever I happen to have on my clipboard (one day, that will be a problem).
If I could get the bits I want from all the different browsers and mash them together into a new one, I'd be happy.

Re:I hate IE8 (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 3 years ago | (#33109884)

If I could get the bits I want from all the different browsers and mash them together into a new one, I'd be happy.

That seems to be what Google did when it created Chrome.

Re:I hate IE8 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33109136)

Amen! Who did (or didn't) do the usability testing on that feature? What a moronic design decision.

No appreciable impact (2, Insightful)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108858)

Those few browser users who actually care about their privacy have already taken steps to safeguard it, at least to some degree that they are comfortable with. MS releasing yet another version of IE that makes it easy for them or others to violate that privacy is not news. It's just business as usual.

Amazing (3, Insightful)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108888)

MSFT has designed yet another piece of software you'd have to be a complete idiot to use.

Re:Amazing (3, Funny)

Meddik (1849590) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108946)

MSFT has designed yet another piece of software you'd have to be a complete idiot to use.

So, you are saying they designed it for the average user?

Re:Amazing (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108964)

MSFT has designed yet another piece of software you'd have to be a complete idiot to use.

I tend to agree but, like you, I'm the kind of person that reads Slashdot and downloads lots of different browsers for my own reasons. I know that 99% of web users are not like me (or you) and I'm fairly certain they don't care about this issue. If that's the case then I don't see a big problem here. Folks will voluntarily use IE8 amidst a sea of browser choice.

Firefox/Chrome extension? (2, Interesting)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108902)

The Internet Explorer planners proposed a feature that would block any third-party content that turned up on more than 10 visited websites, figuring that anything so pervasive was likely to be a tracking tool. This, they believed, was a more comprehensive approach to privacy than simply turning off browser cookies, one that would thwart other tracking methods.

Cue Firefox/Chrome extension implementing this feature in 3...2...1...

In the meantime, Google for Ghostery, which blocks tracking tools using a blacklist. I've had it disabled actually because I figured adblock + a hosts file would do enough for me. But in honor of this article I will re-enable it.

Re:Firefox/Chrome extension? (4, Insightful)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#33109284)

On the downside, this would probably kill projects like Google hosting common JavaScript libraries so sites can reference them and decrease page loads as users cache them elsewhere - in fact it would be worse than having no caching at all, it would strip the JavaScript out completely after the 10th site (unless they came up with a system of whitelisting such projects, which would carry management overheads, or ignoring certain files, in which case ad providers would just make their files look like the exceptions, etc).

Re:Firefox/Chrome extension? (1)

AMuse (121806) | more than 3 years ago | (#33110356)

Wouldn't this feature also kill things like OpenID and other "Single Sign On" services?

Microsoft Privacy© (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33108916)

"At the keynote today at SXSW, Microsoft's Danah Boyd placed a lot of emphasis on Google's privacy [webpronews.com] "fails" with Buzz. The topic of the keynote was the relationship between privacy and publicity, and she certainly covered much more territory and social media in general, but it was interesting that Google Buzz was essentially the first thing talked about"

Who's Messing With the Google Book Settlement? Hint: They're in Redmond, Washington [wired.com]

Re:Microsoft Privacy© (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 3 years ago | (#33109922)

Who's Messing With the Google Book Settlement? Hint: They're in Redmond, Washington

Why would Nintendo of America [nintendo.com] mess with the Google Book Settlement?

Oh wait, you meant the other well-known company from Redmond.

That makes much more sense then alienating.... (1)

Rivalz (1431453) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108922)

Here at Microsoft we half ass our software on purpose. It's a feature... for us.. you, not so much.

Seriously I could shake down every customer that walked through my door to buy a item by forcing them to disclose all their private info. That would work great until the shop next to me offers a better product and is just happy to do business with people.

Microsoft missed an opportunity (3, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108994)

They are currently king of the jungle and everyone knows it. The problem is, their kingdom is weakening and predictions are saying that Microsoft is the new (whatever previous king...IBM, Novell, whatever). A large part of the cause of this is Microsoft's lacking of good will. Microsoft is falling out of favor with its users. It's a growing problem for them and it's time they started trying to rebuild it.

Setting their browser to block ads by default would not hurt their cash cows (MS Office and MS Windows) but would certainly hurt their ad revenue... and other people's ad revenue as well... others like Google.

Now that I think about it, if they did use their browser to block ads, they might find themselves target of more anti-trust litigation.

Re:Microsoft missed an opportunity (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 3 years ago | (#33110438)

Did they ever have the users' goodwill?

I know people pushed for buying their products at some point in time, but I attribute that to their monopoly position and the relative ease of integration between their products (or the lack thereof between their and a competitor's product) more than any real goodwill. There have been, and still are, fanatics, but I can't imagine they were ever the norm.

As for the antitrust element, it wouldn't be difficult to incorporate privacy features that required the users to manually turn on (but stays on). I think as long as it's not on by default, and it's not discriminating the Microsoft ad networks from everybody else's, there's no basis for antitrust action against them. But as I'm neither lawyer or the PotUS, I can't say for certain what actually would happen.

This is just another symptom inherent in most large companies: self-cannibalization. But it also opens the market up for smaller players that lack such reservations, should there be demand for the feature.

come off it slashdot ! (1)

viralMeme (1461143) | more than 3 years ago | (#33109026)

A retrospective positive spin on how MS is about trashing your privacy in the interests of generating revenue, as it always was.

In early 2008, Microsoft Corp.'s product planners for the Internet Explorer 8.0 browser intended to give users a simple, effective way to avoid being tracked online. They wanted to design the software to automatically thwart common tracking tools, unless a user deliberately switched to settings affording less privacy. That triggered heated debate inside Microsoft ..

Where did this happen, who were involved in the design stage, what were their names. Is their any verifiable citations for all of this? I follow the technology and I never heard of whiff of this.

As the leading maker of Web browsers, the gateway software to the Internet

Since when? Firefox, Opera are equal if not better, and have been for some time.

Microsoft built its browser so that users must deliberately turn on privacy settings every time they start up the software.

Where are these hidden privacy settings, all I see is a `Pop-up Blocker', a `Phishing Filter' `and Manage-Addons'

"Microsoft's original privacy plans for the new Explorer were "industry-leading" and technically superior to privacy features in earlier browsers, says Simon Davies, a privacy-rights advocate in the U.K. whom Microsoft consulted while forming its browser privacy plans"

Look all is going on here is Microsoft quoting a bogus puff piece erroneously stating that IE was "industry-leading" some time in the past, presumably in some parallel universe. When did MS innovate time travel ? Slashdot why are you wasting space giving free advertising space for Microsofts` Browser.

Re:come off it slashdot ! (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 3 years ago | (#33109644)

Microsoft built its browser so that users must deliberately turn on privacy settings every time they start up the software.

Where are these hidden privacy settings, all I see is a `Pop-up Blocker', a `Phishing Filter' `and Manage-Addons'

Presumably they're referring to the InPrivate Filtering mode (which is in the Safety menu).

Look all is going on here is Microsoft quoting a bogus puff piece erroneously stating that IE was "industry-leading" some time in the past, presumably in some parallel universe. When did MS innovate time travel ? Slashdot why are you wasting space giving free advertising space for Microsofts` Browser.

Yes, IE was industry-leading back in late 90s. Maybe you've forgotten the travesty that was Netscape 4, but some of us haven't.

Seriously, in 1997, your (graphical) web browser choices were:
Netscape 4: free but had extremely poor support for HTML4, CSS, and DOM manipulation.
IE4: free and had better support for HTML4, CSS, and DOM manipulation than Netscape did.
Opera: Cost money

Re:come off it slashdot ! (1)

kiddygrinder (605598) | more than 3 years ago | (#33110570)

heh, i remember those days, i used to use both browsers, when one crashed i switched to the other. I got about equal usage. sure it may have had better support for html 4 etc but back then that was basically irrelevant, what you really wanted was a browser you could use for more than 20 minutes.

advertisement (4, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 3 years ago | (#33109038)

Ads are one of the places where we clearly see the rise of corporatism. Cyberpunk was right in the general direction, that corporations would become more important and then more powerful than governments, but wrong in how it would manifest. There will be no corporate wars (they're not profitable). The enemy of a corporation is not another corporation - it's the consumer. Wolves kill rabbits a lot more often than they kill other wolves. Amongst your peers, threats and displays of power work a lot better to establish hierarchy and territory than actual battle does. It's the prey that you hunt and kill, not your competitors.

We will be seeing a lot more like this. Consumer rights are being erroded all around the world, while corporate rights are being strengthened.

And I don't even consider myself a leftist - for you americans, if you read your actual history you'll find that several of the founding fathers wanted to outlaw corporations entirely, and the original compromise was to grant them temporary existence. Funny how the conservatives should be up in arms a lot more than the leftists are.

Re:advertisement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33110164)

Ads are one of the places where we clearly see the rise of corporatism. Cyberpunk was right in the general direction, that corporations would become more important and then more powerful than governments, but wrong in how it would manifest. There will be no corporate wars (they're not profitable). The enemy of a corporation is not another corporation - it's the consumer. Wolves kill rabbits a lot more often than they kill other wolves. Amongst your peers, threats and displays of power work a lot better to establish hierarchy and territory than actual battle does. It's the prey that you hunt and kill, not your competitors.

We will be seeing a lot more like this. Consumer rights are being erroded all around the world, while corporate rights are being strengthened.

And I don't even consider myself a leftist - for you americans, if you read your actual history you'll find that several of the founding fathers wanted to outlaw corporations entirely, and the original compromise was to grant them temporary existence. Funny how the conservatives should be up in arms a lot more than the leftists are.

Corporations just get governments to do their bidding when it comes to wars or oppressive behaviour against weaker countries. Take a look at the US history of interference in Latin America.

Bottom line, everyone has a price including governments. Hard to tell the line between governments and corporations.

Re:advertisement (1)

Tom (822) | more than 3 years ago | (#33110660)

Hard to tell the line between governments and corporations.

Not really. I don't recall "USA" being a stock ticker symbol.

What a tragedy (1)

tacktick (1866274) | more than 3 years ago | (#33109132)

Yet again, Microsoft let money get in the way of their users privacy and security.
I didn't even know what Inprivate Filtering was until I read this article and the fact that it is turned off every time you restart IE makes it pretty much useless.
I'm not regretting my decision to use Firefox for everything.

Conflict of interest (2, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#33109140)

I am wary of Google Chrome for the same reason.. Google, even more so than MS make money from advertising online.
Firefox too derives much revenue indirectly from advertising, through their google sponsorship...

At least the source code for these browsers is available, giving users the opportunity to check the code over and provide third party builds with better privacy features, something you can't do with IE.

There's always Opera if you want a closed source browser, since they aren't an ad broker.

Re:Conflict of interest (2, Informative)

silentcoder (1241496) | more than 3 years ago | (#33110102)

>I am wary of Google Chrome for the same reason..

That's why I use chromium instead. All the advantage - with code I can check myself. And many do.

I can tell you that I was involved with discussions on the FSF's free-distro collaboration group about chromium and we identified a number of potential privacy gotcha's - we submitted the list to the chromium developers and all of them were fixed.

They were really very cooperative with us about resolving our privacy concerns.

Who cares (1)

SirRedTooth (1785808) | more than 3 years ago | (#33109192)

I dont care if microsoft know my browsing habits. As long as they don't publish the websites I visit together with my name and address I really do not care if im being tracked. If I ever want to do anything under the radar I know how, but I have never been in that situation.

Re:Who cares (1)

BVis (267028) | more than 3 years ago | (#33109270)

Lots of people do care, and IMNSHO you should care too. Personally, I don't need a reason to want my privacy and personal information protected..

This would have been infuriating news (2, Insightful)

assertation (1255714) | more than 3 years ago | (#33109248)

This would have been infuriating news several years ago before

- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg ordered members private information made public, without consent, without notice, without apology and then told people they would learn to like it.

- Google enrolling people into buzz by default exposing information about them to people who they might not want to see it.

- Yahoo, giving you notice, but mining your address book for its social network, information you thought would never be used.

Microsoft leaving some privacy stuff out or turned off by default makes very limp new these days. Zuckerberg did raise the bar

Re:This would have been infuriating news (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 3 years ago | (#33110412)

If injustice is prevalent, shouldn't that make it MORE newsworthy?

Like any of us were going to use IE anyway (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#33109272)

Seriously, is anyone on /. using IE anyway? Firefox with adblock and noscript is all you need. As long as MS doesn't go all Apple and try to stop me from installing an alternate brower, who really gives a shit?

Sure it screws over those who use IE. But those who use IE have been getting screwed over for a long time. So what's new?

Re:Like any of us were going to use IE anyway (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33109396)

Seriously, is anyone on /. using IE anyway? Firefox with adblock and noscript is all you need.

Sure, if you want a piece of shit slow browser that can't view any websites because of some half-assed, "secure" extension that fucking sucks. Dick out of your ass please. I'll stick with Chrome.

Re:Like any of us were going to use IE anyway (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#33109632)

My browser blocked the "dick in ass" script from ever running. How about yours?

yet one more reason to use an open source browser (1)

schleprock63 (1451297) | more than 3 years ago | (#33109286)

not that i needed another reason to use firefox, but thanks MS, for putting another nail in the coffin of IE.

Cough (5, Interesting)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#33109288)

I don't really care about their motives or what they did. Hell, I avoid their software because of what they've done in the past, they have at least 10 years of spotless behaviour ahead of them before they ever even get back to the "Well, I'll consider them" phase.

More importantly, is the "targetted" advertising and tracking information that they can gather really that worthwhile? What's the stats on un-targetted versus targetted advertising in any medium - online, TV, radio? Obviously, it's not a good idea to target condom advertising in between Teletubbies episodes but does the reverse really have a much-worse response rate than normal? Where is the value in collecting that massive amount of data? Google has oodles and oodles and oodles of advert targeting data if it wants to use it - but almost all Google Adwords I see aren't related to me at all and when you want to show your ads, it's more common to let you choose keywords, target demographics or just let things happen pretty much randomly and in the cheapest spots than it is to target your football-related ads on football sites.

If I go to LWN.net NOW, I get these ads: Cloud Computing Linux, SysAdmin role in London, Linux VPS, Peer 1 UK Managed Hosting, Linux Unmanaged VPS, CHILImodule (A linux-based computer), "Server hosting from staff who care", HPC Linux Servers, TomCat support, Free Code Security Support

What targetted data could possibly have been used to show me those ads? The word Linux (in the sitename, I'm actually browsing from Windows in work and typed in the URL directly!), and my GeoIP (or, at least, my employer's GeoIP for their main proxy server). What's worth spending BILLIONS on infrastructure and data collection to put ads on a high-traffic Linux website that display to a London, UK user related to : London, UK and Linux.

Fluke? Let me try my brother's site - a Scouting site whose URL is www.scoutingresources.org.uk : Scout Uniforms for Sale, Ventures Abroad, Free Life Coach Training, Resellers Bookbuying tool, Scout & Guide Neckers, Names Badges and Lanyards, Cubs Laser Tag Fun, Scouting Activities, London Coupons, Scout Uniform.

So, actually, with Google's "Targetted Ad's", we end up with 3 ad's that aren't at all related to scouting (the other has various links to it) - only one of which is linked to the GeoIP, most of the Scouting links were actually for US Scouting which is vastly different, and the two remaining tenuous links are pretty-much random fillers. Considering that sites earns it's entire hosting budget + a couple of camps for the kids every year from just the Google Ad's alone, that's pretty damning of ad-targeting technology.

Seriously, what does collecting ad-targetting data in this manner get you that you couldn't from a quick keyword analysis and Geo IP lookup?

Re:Cough (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 3 years ago | (#33110006)

One word: GMail.

Oh, you want me to actually explain that?

Normal Google AdWords is based on what Google's search engine knows about the site you're visiting.

As I understand it, GMail's ads are based on what Google knows about you by searching your received, non-Spam mail.

Not the first time somone spied on you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33109490)

If it is for purely advertising purposes, what is the problem? This "privacy-invasion" isn't new : Google and many other companies have been employing for long time now. With respect to web browsers, I believe Google Chrome browser also collects information---I think they went public about this too.

What is the problem? Don't like it? Use Firefox.

Enable by default (2, Informative)

mdsharpe (1051460) | more than 3 years ago | (#33109534)

InPrivate Filtering can be enabled by default with a little reg hack. http://blogs.msdn.com/b/dmart/archive/2009/04/22/enable-inprivate-filtering-by-default.aspx [msdn.com]

1. Turn on InPrivate Filtering by hitting Ctrl+Shift+F 2. A registry key will be created: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Safety\PrivacIE 3. Create a DWORD (32-bit) called StartMode under this key 4. The following values for StartMode correspond to settings for InPrivate Filtering: (Off = 0, Auto = 1, Manual = 2)

Have we learned nothing from GM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33109962)

Marketing people making design decisions about a browser just reminds me of the slow downfall of the American auto makers due in large part to marketing and accountants affecting car designs.

Firefox (1)

scarboni888 (1122993) | more than 3 years ago | (#33110136)

Every time someone comes to me with a computer that was infected via web pages in IE I manage to convince them to convert to FF with Ad-block.

Keep it up M$ and I'll have the world converted eventually.

film at 11 (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 3 years ago | (#33110688)

old news since this is SOP for Microsoft since the '80s. "DOS ain't done until X won't run." this is just the same old MS.

LoB
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