Microsoft recently announced that its upcoming Internet Explorer 10 will include a Do Not Track option by default. This would make it the first web browser to offer default support for the feature privacy buffs want to see adopted across the web. As it stands now, Do Not Track is only supported as an add-on feature in browsers such as Firefox, Opera, and Safari. Getting onboard with Do Not Track has Microsoft looking good in the eyes of Do Not Track, and may give the company a substantial competitive edge in the long run.
Strategic Maneuvering by Microsoft
Among those not to cooperate is Facebook, who has been heavily criticized for its failure to embrace the Do Not Track movement. Google is another company that has taken some criticism, even though it says that Chrome will start supporting it by the end of 2012. It is also interesting to note that Mozilla, who has been one of the strongest supporters of the Do Not Track initiative, said that it will not include the option by default. According to the foundation, doing so would restrict the user’s power, rather than enhance it. And this is what makes the move by Microsoft to include it as a default option so interesting.
Although it is still an incredibly popular choice, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer’s grip on the desktop web browser market seems to get more loose as the years past by. It is easy to see why when considering that it has fierce competition in the form of Firefox, Google Chrome, and other browsers. Things are even more competitive in the mobile arena, where Opera’s Opera Mini is currently the top option. Microsoft has created a sense of unrest in the browser game, but at the same time, it may have given people another reason to use its technology over the competition.
What About Advertisers?
Microsoft’s decision to support Do Not Track natively in Internet Explorer 10 may win over a few users, but it could also frustrate advertisers. While the feature is optional and can be turned on or off, coming enabled means that legions of IE users will automatically throw up a wall that keeps advertisers away from certain information very soon. It will be interesting to see what type of impact this move makes in the browser business and beyond.
In fact, Microsoft’s announcement could be blunted as the W3C Privacy group continues their work on developing a unified policy. Soon after Microsoft’s announcement, the group itself announced that they were debating whether or not a user agent can enable Do Not Track by default.
Note: If you want to see if you have Do Not Track enabled in your browser, go to http://donottrack.us/, where the status will be automatically located and shown on your screen. Instructions are provided for implementation if the user wishes.