Real Life Internet Evil: Microsoft's Smart Tags

Written by Richard Lowe

Our purpose with this series is to use real life examples of deception, fraud and other evil to show how you can better protect yourself. The examples cited in these articles are intended to demonstrate best practices and recommendations.

You've worked hard on your web pages. If you are anything like me, you've spent countless hours writing content, finding or creating graphics, cursing at tables, juggling lists and learning HTML and possibly even CSS, Java, DHTML and countless other things.

My web site is uniquely mine. It is a product of my imagination, my sweat, my brain and my frustration. I have spent many sleepless nights and countless long days adding justrepparttar perfect content to communicate exactly what I wanted to say.

Now Microsoft has come along with a "brilliant" idea. They want to piggyback their own selected content on top of that work. The idea is to have their products (such as Internet Explorer andrepparttar 133589 Office suite) scan web pages and documents for keywords and phrases known torepparttar 133590 Microsoft. Any of these that are found would be underlined with a special purple "squiggle" to show that they are "smart tags".

Anyone viewingrepparttar 133591 page could then click onrepparttar 133592 smart tag and be transported to a Microsoft web site for more information. For example, you could write a web page aboutrepparttar 133593 Grand Canyon, andrepparttar 133594 phrase "Grand Canyon" could be underlined, allowing your visitors to check outrepparttar 133595 Expedia.Com page about how to book travel torepparttar 133596 area.

Why does Microsoft want to do this? It's really very simple - to make an incredible amount of money. Look at it this way, Microsoft suddenly would have at their disposal every single document viewed with a new Microsoft product as a potential advertisement. Wow. That's power. No, this is an understatement of incredible magnitude. This is more than power - this isrepparttar 133597 harnessing of everyone's creative energy into a huge global advertising tool. It totally staggersrepparttar 133598 imagination.

You could be looking at a newspaper site, reading an article about train travel, and click on numerous links to Microsoft sites (and presumably third party sites which paid Microsoft forrepparttar 133599 privilege) selling train related products and services. If you read a classified ad on that same newspaper site selling an automobile,repparttar 133600 word "Cadillac" could be underlined with a smart tag linking to a Cadillac dealer.

Content (the tags) are added dynamically to web pages byrepparttar 133601 browser withoutrepparttar 133602 permission ofrepparttar 133603 person who createdrepparttar 133604 pages (the webmaster or author). While strictly speaking this might not violate copyright laws (but it might be considered vandalism), it sure is rude. In fact, most people would consider it highly unethical.

Microsoft Product Activation

Written by Richard Lowe

Let's see if I've got this straight. Microsoft bolts together an excellent office package by purchasing programs from many other companies (or just purchasingrepparttar companies outright) and improves those products tremendously. They put an incredibly high price onrepparttar 133588 product, and in spite of that price manage to sell enough to more-or-less ownrepparttar 133589 market. Admittedly,repparttar 133590 product is excellent, so good, in fact, that it is ruthlessly copied by people all overrepparttar 133591 planet. In spite ofrepparttar 133592 copying, Microsoft manages to eek out a few tens of billions of dollars on this product suite alone.

After numerous releases,repparttar 133593 product has finally come close to perfection with Office 2000. In fact, it's so close to perfection thatrepparttar 133594 only significant "features" ofrepparttar 133595 following version are smart tags (which no one seems to want and are not implemented very well anyway) and product activation.

Now it turns out that there really is not any reason for anyone in their right mind to upgrade their Office suite from 2000 to XP. I've looked closely atrepparttar 133596 new release, and I could not sell my boss on spending several hundred dollars per copy - there is absolutely no return on investment of any kind. And as far asrepparttar 133597 home version is concerned - why on earth would I want to change? The Office 2000 suite already contains everything I could ever possibly want from this kind of product plus about 2000% more.

Naturally Microsoft has figured this out and has taken steps to remedyrepparttar 133598 situation. They have decided, in their infinite wisdom, that we shall upgrade whether we like it or not.

You see, businesses are being forced to upgrade through changes in support and licensing agreements. It does not matter that not a single person in my position at any company that I know of has any plans to upgrade to Office XP at any time inrepparttar 133599 immediate future. We have to purchaserepparttar 133600 upgrade almost immediately or we may have to pay outrageous fees to upgrade in a few years. Since it's a pretty good bet thatrepparttar 133601 newer operating systems will not run older versions ofrepparttar 133602 Office suite, we are pretty much being forced to upgrade because, well, we don't have any choice.

Obviously Microsoft's biggest problem with home users is convincing them to installrepparttar 133603 product on one and only one computer system. Heaven forbid that someone purchase a product and actually install it on two computers that he owns - it doesn't matter that he paid over $479 ($239 forrepparttar 133604 upgrade) for a glorified word processor, a spreadsheet program and some other things he will probably never use.

To prevent this travesty of justice, Microsoft has created product activation. What this means is you purchaserepparttar 133605 product (in this case,repparttar 133606 Office XP suite) and install it on your computer. Now you get to run it 50 times or so before it more or less stops working. You now have to activaterepparttar 133607 product, which means you let it "phone home" overrepparttar 133608 internet. You get to do this on one and only one machine.

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