Microsoft Figures Out How to Corner the Market on Net Advertising
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 creator.
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.
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