Microsoft to Pitch New Web Browser As Pro-Privacy?:
Story here.
No, Microsoft is undoubtedly doing this to attack Google's targeted advertising supported business model (whether that business model is good or bad is, um, "above my pay grade" - that's my story and I'm sticking to it).

Or, to use vernacular that Microsoft was once quite a bit more familiar with, it has merely decided to "cut off [Google's] air supply."
8.27.2008 6:47pm

I used the word "pitch" intentionally.
8.27.2008 6:52pm
I used the word "pitch" intentionally.
Or perhaps equally accurately, "spin," "dissemble," "prevaricate," "deceive," "engage in fraudulent inducement" and various other happy synonyms?

Why am I reminded of Thomas Penfield Jackson's rather infamous observations about Microsoft's veracity that became rather more public during the U.S. v. Microsoft appeal than he had intended?
Judge Jackson, in spite of the findings of the appellate court, continued to deny that [he was biased against Microsoft] and insisted that any perception of bias in the minds of observers was created by Microsoft. His statements were a response to several evasive tactics Microsoft used at the trial, including falsifying video evidence, non-responsiveness on the stand, and denying allegations contained in evidence

(with my apologies for using Wikipedia as a crutch - it was a lot faster than citing the appellate record and a series of post-trial interviews, of course).
8.27.2008 7:10pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Firefox with the add-ons "customize google," and "noscript" are supposed prevent google from tracking the user. For example on this site, double click, sitemeter and imworld are turned off. The google tracking cookie is anonymized and google analytics is turned off. I don't know for sure if this gives me privacy, but the ads sure disappear with "adbplock plus" turned on. I don't see any need to the MS browser.
8.27.2008 7:22pm
In addition, as I understand it, this "feature" was originally identified as a bug in the way the new browser handled ads.

Rather than fix the bug, they decided that they would call it a privacy feature.

Go figure.

8.27.2008 7:23pm

My own interest is in public perceptions of the value of privacy, not Microsoft as a corporation. So I think it's interesting that microsoft would use that as a pitch, no matter how evil and Satanic the company may be.
8.27.2008 7:25pm
Sam H (mail):
If they haven't removed all the nanny ware that they put in IE7, I am not interested.

Microsoft has been doing some new things. For example, you can download for free Visual Studio Express which includes Visual Basic, C# and C++. This is a very good student level programing package and they support it, all free.
8.27.2008 9:15pm
Jim at FSU (mail):
Adblock/Adblock Plus and NoScript completely block all tracking cookies and advertisements already. They even block annoying non-advertising features of ordinary websites.

Microsoft missed the bandwagon by about 2 years.
8.27.2008 9:15pm
Jim at FSU (mail):
For clarity, those are Firefox plugins.
8.27.2008 9:16pm
Apart from sheer bloody-mindedness, why would you want defeat the advisers' attempts to target you? If you visit websites about video games, or women's lingerie, or cars, I think that indicates you are interested in those subjects and would probably prefer to see ads on those subjects.

Right now, on the version of this page presented to me, there is an ad for a cell-phone and an ad for flowers. I don't need either of those things -- my time and the advertisers' money are therefore wasted. Much better to show me something I might need or want or care about.

Full disclosure: yes, I am in the business of creating space for targeted ads (and proud of it). I am not particular worried about Microsoft's proposed "feature" -- those guys couldn't pour piss out of a boot if instruction were printed on the sole.
8.27.2008 10:51pm
Crunchy Frog:

If you visit websites about video games, or women's lingerie, or cars, I think that indicates you are interested in those subjects and would probably prefer to see ads on those subjects.

Presupposing that you want to see ads at all (which most of us don't), what makes you think I want my kids (who can very easily see the screen over my shoulder) seeing things related to websites that I might visit after they go to bed?
8.28.2008 12:18am
Jim at FSU (mail):
I don't want to see ads at all, even on subjects that interest me. They waste bandwidth, clutter up the screen and generally detract from my enjoyment of the internet.

It has been years since I had to put up with one of those "catch the monkey and win a prize" flash advertisements that runs across the top bottom and sides of every modern web page. Good riddance.

As a former software person, I teach everyone I can about how to disable all advertising and marketing software. The sooner we can put all of these people out of business and make it seem like a complete waste of their money to advertise via images, flash or email, the better off the internet will be.

When I want to buy something, I can search for it with a search engine. I don't need an advertisement to tell me I need something. Piss off.
8.28.2008 12:32am
Jim, but isn't it a little ironic given that the search engines are themselves funded by advertisements? Advertising is annoying, but it's also the reason we get so much free stuff online.
8.28.2008 12:37am
The other plugin that greatly enhances the AdBlock experience is the Filterset plugin - it uses an often-updated list of approved vs nonapproved sites and keeps your AdBlock up-to-date. I also heartily approve of NoScript- it's got a bit of a curve to use properly, but is the absolute safest browsing method.

Dangerous websites use scripts to catch your information and send it to where you don't want it; blocking scripts is the key to safe browsing.

I refuse to use IE7 by the way - Firefox is the only way to go in my opinion.
8.28.2008 12:38am
Jim at FSU (mail):
I would argue that the most commonly available types of advertising are counterproductive because they generate more anger than sales. I have no problem with unobtrusive advertising like the google text ads that appear on the sides of pages, but the vast majority of internet advertising is a serious hindrance.

Remember that it isn't completely free to block ads. I have to:
a) notice that the site I am viewing is behaving oddly and become aggravated to some degree
b) spend about 10 seconds of effort to find all the html elements and javascript that comprise the offending advertisement and enter a pattern to block it
c) reload the page to make sure I got rid of it
d) repeat b and c until it is all gone and I can go back to reading the page

This means that an advertisement that I only notice when I am looking around the screen for help finding something (to buy perhaps) will probably never get blocked because it never crosses the threshold of interfering with what I intend to do on that page. Unfortunately this is the exception. Things I remember blocking:
-intellitext advertising that makes it so that any time your mouse wanders over particular words in an article, a window pops up and blocks what you were reading to advertise something related to that word.
-popups that force you to close them to continue seeing the page.
-flashing, lewd or noisy flash animations.
-anything that is known to track me to facilitate the sending of spam

As a libertarian social experiment the internet is pretty neat. Through the wonders of software configuration, each of us can limit the ability of others to annoy us far more effectively than the government ever could, assuming it would adopt the policy any particular one of us preferred.
8.28.2008 2:41am
A. Zarkov (mail):
We don't need ads to get free stuff. Firefox is free and it helps me eliminate ads. The "R" system for data analysis is free and is now much better than its commercial competitor Splus.
8.28.2008 2:54am
Nick P.:
My working assumption is that online advertisements, even ones targeted at my interests, are misleading and untrustworthy. If I want to purchase something online, I google and then check several different vendors. I would never, ever, click through an ad, even for something that I already wanted to purchase.

Thanks, everyone, for all the suggestions of useful Firefox extensions. Tonight, I'll be downloading the ones I don't already have.
8.28.2008 10:21am
We don't need ads to get free stuff.

Yes, we do. Or, more precisely, many of the people who currently provide free content online need ad revenue to pay for their web space. No ads = greatly reduced free stuff.
8.28.2008 10:56am
BZ (mail):
Old news. The idea of the "porn" browser has been out there a while. Check Engadget. The idea is that, if you use the browser to visit places you'd rather keep quiet, you might want a one-step click to arrange more privacy.
8.28.2008 11:29am
Presupposing that you want to see ads at all (which most of us don't),
Yes, yes, you do.

Or more precisely, you want all the things that online ads can bring you. Google, comes to mind and most other useful online service, including my own fine site (which I will decline to name here).

Moreover, a perfectly targeted would only reach the people who did want to see it. In any case, the question the choice isn't between ads and no ads, but between random ads and ads for stuff you might want.
what makes you think I want my kids (who can very easily see the screen over my shoulder) seeing things related to websites that I might visit after they go to bed?
Yeah, they probably don't want you to see where they're going either.

If you are worried about keeping your browsing habit private from other people using the same machine, targeted ads and the cookies that support them are the least of your problems. I was once using the computer at the home of a good friend -- a fifty-ish law professor, no-one on this site, of course -- and typed in the first few characters of a URL when the autocomplete helpfully suggested I might want to return to "" or some such.

You leave your tracks all over a computer and if you don't want your family members to know you are visiting porn sites, searching for a divorce attorney, researching STDs, whatever, yes, don't use IE, use Firefox, and investigate the Profile Manager and the -P option.
8.28.2008 2:12pm

We don't need ads to get free stuff. Firefox is free and it helps me eliminate ads.

Really? Where do you think Mozilla, the creator of Firefox, gets its funding....Google = ads. Nothing is free.
8.28.2008 8:29pm