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  (Source: Economic Folk)

IE 9 will soon get a "do not track" tool. Mozilla recently scrapped its currrent version of such a tool, under pressure from advertisers.
Microsoft might have just won back a few Mozilla users

In a surprising juxtaposition, Microsoft is the one defending users from overzealous corporate interests, while open source project Mozilla bows to those same interests.  

The item in question is the so-called "Do Not Track" tool, explored by bother companies.  Typically, the online world is driven by advertising -- either independent, or via a service (typically Google).  But traditional ads are only modest moneymakers.  After all, there's little guarantee that the user will click, or that they be interested in buying what they accidentally or intentionally clicked on.

In an effort to make more relevant ads, internet giants like Facebook, Google, and others dump cookies on your computer.  These cookies track your web activities in explicit detail.  And that makes many users uncomfortable, as there's growing concern that the data collected could be abused -- for example by foreign spies, corporate spies, firms investigating individuals for infidelity, by health insurance firms looking to raise rates on customers with fast food addictions, or by malicious users like phishers or spammers to better tailor their attacks.

Hoping to ban internet firms from tracking your online activities, Mozilla devised the so-called "Do Not Track" tool.  But a couple months back -- midway in the Firefox 4 beta testing cycle -- the company removed the tool, caving to pressure from advertisers who were concerned that it might hurt their revenue.

While 
The Wall Street Journal reports that Mozilla is working to return the tool in some form to the browser, prospects of a true no-tracking solution seem unlikely.

Thus it might surprise some that follow the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's call for more browsers to implement this kind of feature, that Microsoft has taken up the banner of blocking tracking.  The company announced that it would be adding a new feature called "Tracking Protection" to its upcoming browser, Internet Explorer 9.

Microsoft Chief Privacy Strategist Peter Cullen writes:

By designing these sorts of enhancements with privacy in mind at the design phase, we're able to deliver a functionality that provides consumers additional levels of control over what they want to engage in and how they choose to do so.

We believe that the combination of consumer control, an open platform for publishing and Tracking Protection Lists, including lists that allow 'calls,' offer progress and a good balance between empowering consumers and online industry needs.

So why is Microsoft suddenly becoming the champion of privacy?  The answer lies in revenue and consumer sentiment.

Though Internet Explorer 8 did add a private browsing mode earlier than Mozilla, IE long lagged behind Mozilla in terms of ad-blocking and other privacy technologies.  This was largely because, in browsing's early days, consumers didn't have as negative perceptions about the nascent web-ad industry.

Microsoft as a larger company than most can be a bit slow at responding to trends.  So when public sentiment shifted against online tracking, it took a while to respond.

But ultimately many experts say that Microsoft can say "no" to advertising companies much easier than Mozilla or Google (the second and third place browser makers) can.  That's because ad income is a relatively trivial portion of Microsoft's overall revenue, where it is the primary source of Mozilla and Google's revenue.

In embracing anti-tracking measures, Microsoft may finally have figured out a clever business tactic to win back some who abandoned IE for Mozilla Firefox.  With IE 9 shaping up to finally be somewhat fast and standards proficient, Microsoft makes a compelling case to ditch the third parties and return to the fold.  



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Nice going IE9
By NewBro on 12/8/2010 10:58:59 AM , Rating: 4
I've been using IE9 for a week or so, and have to say initial impression is not too shabby at all. Loads quick (on par with Chrome) and yet retain ability to render older site (think old school corporate webapp) that are designed to be run on IE6 only.




RE: Nice going IE9
By SkullOne on 12/8/2010 12:41:12 PM , Rating: 2
If MS has the API's to allow a good port of NoScript (not that hack job NotScript that Chrome uses) I'll switch back to IE in a heartbeat.


RE: Nice going IE9
By Gungel on 12/8/2010 1:01:05 PM , Rating: 2
And the add-on "Better Privacy" to add protection for flash and super cookies.


RE: Nice going IE9
By inperfectdarkness on 12/8/2010 1:43:59 PM , Rating: 3
there's a boatload of other add-ons that make me want to stick with FF. i wouldn't be surprised if there was an add-on released for FF which did added this feature.


RE: Nice going IE9
By bug77 on 12/8/2010 5:15:07 PM , Rating: 2
IE always had an advantage when it comes to startup. Its HTML engine is already loaded into memory when you start Windows. And it's probably not the only feature. That's why start time and memory consumption metrics do not tell the whole truth about IE.


RE: Nice going IE9
By B3an on 12/8/10, Rating: 0
RE: Nice going IE9
By compguy99 on 12/9/2010 12:56:31 AM , Rating: 5
Sorry, but IE is still an integral part of the OS, they've merely enabled a feature to "hide" IE if you choose. It CANNOT be completely removed! It is still MANDATORY for Windows Updates and controls system-wide settings regarding access to the internet.


RE: Nice going IE9
By Gurthang on 12/9/2010 10:39:19 AM , Rating: 3
That is only true for anything before Vista. Because XP and below used portions of IE to do the "folder views" and other UI gloss back then, and the scripting host was used by all sorts of automation tasks. Now in Vista and beyond they have been seperated and the OS itself is no longer dependant on it. However that does not mean that you can remove IE without cost as some applications continue to require IE to be there because their designers decided to use IE as a core piece of their apps.


RE: Nice going IE9
By peter7921 on 12/8/2010 10:39:36 PM , Rating: 1
I'm a little bit obsessed with web browsers I have all the major browsers installed and i regularly compare them side by side. It's my hobby :)

Right now i have Firefox both 3.6 and 4.0Beta, IE9, Chrome, Opera and Safari installed.

I have been a hardcore Firefox user since the beginning (pre 1.0), but recently I have switched to using Chrome and IE9 as my primary browsers (more chrome).

I can't seem to go back to Firefox, it feels slow now and the beta is just a mess, the gui is terrible.

I'm not sure whats going on with Mozilla, and I won't judge 4.0 too harshly till it is out of beta, but so far I'm not to happy with it.

I do love what MS is doing with IE9 though and if it wasn't for a couple a things that annoy me I would switch completely to it. In fact both Chrome and IE9 have some annoyances, I wish I could take what I like from one and add it to the other for a perfect browser.


RE: Nice going IE9
By spread on 12/9/2010 1:43:31 AM , Rating: 2
From what I read, the new IE9 has been cheating on benchmark tests so we don't know how fast (or slow) it actually is.

I'm calling placebo effect on the speed until the hard numbers come in. Should be faster than IE8 though.


RE: Nice going IE9
By Murst on 12/9/2010 10:24:20 AM , Rating: 2
It was already shown that the optimizations in IE9 aren't specific to the benchmarks (although some optimizations are limited in scope, something that is expected in a beta product).

As far as "knowing" how fast the browser is - that's pretty easy. Just download the beta and compare for yourself. Strictly going off of benchmarks is not really a great way of evaluating a product (IMHO). Run it for yourself, see if the speed is a problem, and then evaluate it based on features.

Honestly, the latest releases of all the major browsers are all incredibly fast. It really doesn't make much of a difference if the browser is first or 4th in these benchmarks, as they're all within milliseconds of each other, something that would probably be impossible to notice simply from browsing experience.


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