What if you could put ad links on every single web page on the Internet? What if you could sell those links to other companies, creating links back to their sites so they could sell their products? Best of all, what if you didn't have to pay a single dime to any of the webmasters carrying your ads? That's what Microsoft can do with the new Smart Tags technology that they're building into Windows XP products.
Smart Tags are a new feature of Microsoft Office XP. If you load Office XP,
then according to Microsoft's web site, "Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Excel
2002, Microsoft Outlook 2002 (when Word is enabled as your e-mail editor) and
Internet Explorer (when Office XP is installed on your computer)" will
automatically start using Smart Tags.
Think of Smart Tags as your favorite word processor's "Search and Replace"
feature on steroids and out of (your) control. Smart Tags look through
documents, and replace "information such as names, dates, addresses, phone
numbers, places, and stock symbols" with hyperlinks.
Hyperlinks to where? Other documents and other web sites. Of course you can
probably modify where your Smart Tags link to, but just to be helpful,
you can bet that Microsoft will include a set of default hyperlinks that they
can automatically update without your interference.
This means that anytime you fire up Internet Explorer in an XP environment and
start browsing the Internet, it will automatically start sticking whatever
hyperlinks Microsoft wants into the web pages you're reading. Hyperlinks that
were not added by the webmaster of the site, that may be irrelevant to the
site, and that are not part of the site's design or desired by the site's
Usually if you want to stick a link onto someone else's site, you have to pay
for it. This is called "advertising." Microsoft has just figured out how to put
ads on every single web page in existence, and they don't have to pay one dime
to a single webmaster for all of that ad space.