Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Microsoft

Microsoft To Delay IE "Smart Tags" Release 220

Erbo writes: "CNET reports that Microsoft has decided to drop Smart Tags from Internet Explorer 6.0, the version that will be packaged with Windows XP. They may be resurrected later, though, so don't yank those META tags out of your pages yet. Smart Tags are still part of Office XP, too."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Microsoft To Delay IE "Smart Tags" Release

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...to let the coders have time to finish the rest of the technology that goes with the smart tags, the smart-image, for example. Yes that's right, no longer will you have to worry about non-microsoft related content on your website, smart-image will instantly replace your graphics with better and prettier microsoft ones.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If the users want to enable SmartTags in their browser it's their problem. I'll never change my HTML because of what M$ do. I follow the W3C standards and that's all.
    SmartTags is just another anoying feature that'll drive users away from IE.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Just out of curiosity I recently downloaded the latest IE6 preview version that does come with smart tags, after having installed it, it took me quite some time to actually get the things to work. In addition to IE6, you were required to download a smart tag library ("Smart Tags for the everyday web") and you needed to enable the feature. From then on, some very well-known company names had smart links!

    Surprisingly, both the "Smart Tags for the everyday web" library as well as the smart tags option itsself show up as seperate programs in Add/Remove Programs, so you can actually de-install them in a snap.

    Having browsed using this version of IE for a day now, I couldn't find any benefit in the smart tags though, in fact, they maked many web sites look ugly. The content of the smart tags is completely useless IMHO, as the names that do show up are really "big" names that everybody knows anyways...

    Oh well...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    > (i) Smart tags were disabled by default in IE6.

    So what ? How this implies that they will not be default in 6.1 ?

    > (ii) Smart tags were provided by filter DLLs which in turn could be provided by ANYONE, not just Microsoft.

    First, using DLL (ie: code, if I read you correctly) for this is very very very virus/troyan friendly. Second, 90% of the people would not get past the default installed ones, so, in IE7 or 8, they'll get encarta and msn links all over the web.

    > (iii) You could select which filters were enabled - if you don't like the ones from Microsoft then just don't even enable them

    Most people won't be tech-savy enought to do that. And how can you guarantee that the option to turn off the various Smart tags will be easy to find, and will not jump around from versions to versions (there is a lot of precedent of microsoft moving preferences around between releases of its browser)

    Of course, you'll get gentle reminders like "Warning: you have removed MSN SmartTags. The web page may not display exactly as intended. Link to related content will be missing. Do you want to put MSN SmartTags back [YES] [No, but remind me later]"

    And I can bet that couple of years after that, you'll find that passport.com will not work (or will be a hell to use) if SmartTags are not enabled (ie: navigation will be provided mostly by smart tags).

    *OF COURSE*, SmartTags are not a bad idea. There are a very good idea, like web-annotaions. The problem here is microsoft leveraging its old DOS monopoly into a desktopOS monopoly, then a web browser monopoly, then an information provider monopoly.

    Microsoft is just too big to be allowed to do anything like SmartTags. Resistance is not futile.

    Cheers,

    --fred
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 28, 2001 @05:23AM (#123242)
    Suggested Moderation: -1, Wannabe Legal Advice

    Thank you.

  • That's what I did with Venice [sourceforge.net]...set it up so that it automatically sends the appropriate META tag unless an option is enabled in the config file. (That option is called "ms-copyright-violations" because that's what I believe Smart Tags are.)

    Don't count them out, though...we may have won this round, but I'm under no illusion that this is a permanent victory. As I posted last night to the Smart Tags mailing list at Yahoo! Groups, "'The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.'"

    Eric
    --

  • "Saving the user's session *completely* (including what programs are open, and where they are in those programs) is a good idea."

    If I'm not mistaken, the Apple 'Lisa' did this in 1984.

    http://www.archaic-apples.com/lisa/lisa-retro.html #6 [archaic-apples.com]

  • I'm betting it's the legal ramifications. The appeals court's just sent the antitrust suit back to another district court, with a lot of the findings of fact _intact_. How much do you want to bet that Microsoft got some kind of advance notice of this decision? I can think of several possible ways, some of which would not require the cooperation of the appeals court. Any kind of hint would do, whether that is through normal channels, inferences drawn from communications to MS lawyers, running a sniffer on communications _between_ the judges... anything. The information would not have to be publically announced, just acted on.

    Given that the case is going back to a lower court, I have read one account that suggests further hearings can happen including a look into Microsoft's present actions. Personally, I think even without 'smart tags', they are still playing complete brinksmanship, but if they _also_ rolled out smart tags, it would just get ridiculous. Any lawyer would make mincemeat of them- a convicted monopolist doing an end run on all of HTML to present advertising links under its central control? Give me a _break!_ So, Microsoft is not _incredibly_ stupid, just incredibly arrogant. Even they can see that this would be a slamdunk in court, and so by some mysterious coincidence just before the appeals court ruling comes out, they back off on Smart Tags. We're not going to see the original concept for Smart Tags while the case is in court, it would be just too damaging legally to Microsoft's antitrust case. I guarantee you the lawyers said, "What are you, CRAZY? Put that away until we win this completely! Then you can have it." (Not that the MS lawyers are totally free from craziness themselves- but they can at least spot how damaging this would be to their case.)

  • Yeah, but some Microsoft applications still require rebooting, either before the install can complete or after the install is finished. I believe Office 2000 still does this.

    Why must I reboot to install a word processor?

  • by sql*kitten ( 1359 ) on Thursday June 28, 2001 @05:46AM (#123247)
    Smart Tags are a way for an outside agency to modify my pages on the fly, in ways I do not approve of

    It could equally well be said that if you use Netscape on Linux to view a page that the designer laid out in Internet Explorer on a Mac, you're not viewing the page as the author intended.

    Or, for example, if you use one of the many utilities that strips out banner ads.

    Get over it! You know why HTML has header tags to describe headings, why we have title, and body, and ordered lists and all that other stuff? It's because you say what it is, and it's up to the client to decide how it looks. This is how it was back in 1994! And And Netscape had their "What's Related" (I don't remember the exact name) facility that could take you to other pages that might be relevant to what you're doing.

    If there's a way to switch your "smart tags" provider to someone other than MSFT, then there's whole new business opportunity right there.

    Honestly, Microsoft are damned if they do, damned if they don't. Ask yourself, honestly, if this were a funky new feature in KDE, would you be as bitter?

  • Well in part you are correct. The smarttags in Office XP do what you say.

    For instance if I type in a word somewhat incorrectly, like 'TRavesty', it will auto correct it, but have a blue line under it that if I click on I can tell it to leave it the way it was.

    But Smart Tags in Office XP also work exactly like those in IE. At the rollout demo, someone from West Publishing showed how they had made a Smart Tag filter with which if you clicked on a Legal Reference it would go out to Westlaw and pull up the full text of the case.

    It's really actually quite cool.
  • Announce something and see how much public outcry there is before deciding whether to back off it or not?

    Hmmm. Maybe I should try and stir up a public outcry about them dropping Java from IE6 then...

    (I work for a startup that currently relies on a Java applet for some of it's features).

  • comme from betanews [betanews.com]. In case the link does not work, try this one http://www.betanews.com/article.php3?sid=993720201 [betanews.com]
    --
  • by Genom ( 3868 ) on Thursday June 28, 2001 @06:54AM (#123260)
    The problem with this is that the "supplement" comes from the MS point of view.

    Think about a smarttag that links the phrase "buy tickets" to a MS-sponsored ticket seller.

    Suppose I have a document with the following line:

    "Well, we tried to buy tickets for the show at the theatre, but they were sold out. Luckily, we were still able to buy tickets for the movie through a small online retailer known as [booga]" ([] denoting a link).

    MS changes that to:

    "Well, we tried to [buy tickets] for the show at the theatre, but they were sold out. Luckily, we were still able to [buy tickets] for the movie through a small online retailer known as [booga]" ([] denoting a link).

    ...with the words "buy tickets" linked to THEIR choice of ticket-seller, when you were obviously trying to point people to a different one.

    Granny isn't going to understand the difference between smarttags and regular links. She will follow the "buy tickets" link, and not realize that you, as the author, had no intention of sending her there.

    That's the problem here. Ignorant or un-informed people who don't understand the technology, and MS using their dominance in the browser market to change the web into the image THEY want to project, not the one that the authors of the content want to project.
  • I wrote a little thing on why smart tags are a bad idea for Microsoft.

    Microsoft and trademark lawsuits [warcloud.net]

    In two words... tradmark violations.

  • You're suggesting something that has no benefit to anyone at all, whereas Smart Tags (while you may find them intrusive) actually have a pretty good use.

    Suggesting? No, I'm not suggesting... I wouldn't ever want a browser to do this. But as long as MS is modifying content by adding links to point people to MS-affiliated sites, then why wouldn't they also modify content by deleting links that point people to MS-competing sites? Different side of the same coin. If they're allowed to get away with the one, what'll stop them from doing the other?

    --Jim
  • by kzinti ( 9651 ) on Thursday June 28, 2001 @04:25AM (#123268) Homepage Journal
    ...and maybe someone else has posted this thought, because it's a logical extension (or inversion?) of the "smart tags" idea. What if Microsoft turned this idea around, and also invented "untags", that would take hyperlinks pointing to competitor's web sites and "unlink" them? For example, their browser could turn

    <a href="http://redhat.com">Redhat</a>

    into plain old

    Redhat

    Would even Microsoft be arrogant and audacious enough to try to get away with this? I hope we don't find out. This Orwellian notion of on-the-fly content modification - "for the benefit of the user" - just scares the stuffing out of me!

    Where do you want to stay today?

    --Jim
  • by Doc Technical ( 16405 ) on Thursday June 28, 2001 @04:50AM (#123274)
    I've written an Open Source program, gTags [sourceforge.net], that gives Smart Tag capabilities to Linux/X Window applications. It's non-intrusive, that is, it doesn't modify the appearance of web pages or other apps (I couldn't if I wanted to). Instead, gTags spies on the X Window selection buffer (the clipboard) and matches against that.

    gTags uses the same XML schema as Microsoft Smart Tags. I've added the ability to create a Default tag which can optionally be used to "match" selected words that don't match any other (specific) tags.

    I guess the main difference between gTags and Microsoft Smart Tags is that the user has to actively choose what they want to do.

    gTags is alpha software, but seems to work well enough. Suggestions and contributions are welcome. Read more about gTags here [sourceforge.net].

  • I have zero tolerance for zero-tolerance policies. Unfortunately common sense isn't very common.

    That seems very narrow minded of you, I'm sure there are some perfectly good zero tolerance policies. Like, nonapproved drugs in the mental ward at the hospitol. The point is that zero-tolerance, turns life into a prision like state, so if thats what your intent is, thats your choice, but you should know beforehand what your getting yourself into before you set such policies.

  • I was under the impression that it was possible to have some meta tags that would disable the smart tags if you were so inclined.

    Hey, it's not going to take too lomg to add those meta-tags to every bloody web page out there, is it?

    Sheesh... opt-out never works, at least not for all those people who get included against their will.
  • by GauteL ( 29207 ) on Thursday June 28, 2001 @04:39AM (#123279)
    .. would it not be possible to ship Apache with a default-setting that automatically sends the "stop smart-tags"-setting with all loads of the websites on the server.
    Then it could be turned on or off individually for each virtualhost.

    Of course.. this is not the way it should operate, there should be an "opt in"-tag instead of a "opt out"-tag.
  • You'd think by now, with so many articles on this subject on Slashdot and so many other sites, that everyone would know that this is done on the browser end. There's nothing in the page source itself that causes the smart tags to appear.

    Of course, a proxy server that automatically inserts the magic META tag that turns the smart tags off would be helpful.

  • But this is actually a very promising sign. Like Intel before them (the processor serial number disaster) Microsoft has tried to do something really BAD, been taken to task for it, and actually backed off.

    Is Microsoft actually considering getting responsive to its users? This could actually be a really good sign since this is the first time (that I can remember) that they have backed off of adding any new feature. Even a year ago I think they would have just gone ahead, arrogantly certain they can do no wrong.

    We can at least hope. Maybe, eventually, they'll even get rid of Clippy.
  • The Smart Tags in Office XP are for Office applications. For example, if I have Bob Smith in my Outlook address book, Word will offer to enter Bob Smith's address when I type his name at the start of a business letter. Similarly, Excel can use MSN MoneyCentral to import stock price data.

    The regular Office XP smart tags can be turned off, just like any superfluous MS Office "feature." Think of them as less intrusive versions of "it looks like you're writing a letter."
  • by generic-man ( 33649 ) on Thursday June 28, 2001 @04:42AM (#123284) Homepage Journal
    The linked site has something that Slashdot has never provided: a screen shot [scripting.com] of Internet Explorer 6 with Smart Tags enabled. Although the site presumably contains many buzzwords (XML, SOAP, and even "Smart Tags") only one word is actually given the dreaded purple underline. That word? "Microsoft."

    The suggested links aren't even as blatantly pro-Microsoft as you might think. It looks like they're the same content you could get about any company from any financial news site (news for MSFT, report for MSFT, chart for MSFT, etc.) and an option to search the web for the company name. In fact, when you search for "Microsoft" on MSN, there are still anti-Microsoft pages [msn.com] linked after the more relevant ones. (Check out link #25. Most people searching for just "Microsoft" aren't looking for MS-bashing, either.)

    Please, stop overreacting until you've actually seen what Smart Tags do. The article cautions that Smart Tags are still in Office XP. Those are safer still: the usual company stock-price import facilities, as well as the option to automagically import addresses from your Address Book. That makes life simpler when you're typing a letter.

    No, I'm not a Microsoft supporter or shareholder, but the constant MS-bashing is completely uncalled for. (Notice also how I did not use "Micro$oft", "M$", "Microsquish", or any other stupid manglings in my write-up here.)
  • There was nothing wrong with the technology itself (something most people don't seem to realize), just the potential for abuse by Microsoft (who doesn't have a great track record).

    Actually, in this case it wasn't even Microsoft that people were worried about, it was unscrupulous web page authors. To add a smart tag entry on the client, all you have to do is add an <object> tag and some special XML to the top of your page, and voila the user has a new smart tag. There's nothing to stop someone from adding a smart tag entry for, say, "The Silmarillion" that will take you to some cheap-ass porn site (or worse yet, a Terry Brooks fan club [shudder].)

    This is not the only objection, btw. I personally have a problem with MS's attempt to "embrace and extend" the anchor tag, especially when XLink [w3c.org] is an official W3C recommendation and does the same thing.

    - Rev.
  • It sounds like you don't even need to know the facts to have an opinion. You've shown that you really have no clue what Smart Tags actually are, so before you make more of an idiot of yourself, here's some facts:

    Dude, calm the fuck down. We're talking about smart tags ferchissakes. It's nothing to get your panties in a wad about. The guy disagrees with you. Play nice. People will be more apt to listen to you.

    Smart tags were provided by filter DLLs which in turn could be provided by ANYONE, not just Microsoft.

    This is exactly the problem: anyone (and everyone) can add smart tags. I have a problem with this on two fronts: a) smart tag spam, where some unscrupulous web page author throws in a smart tag header at the top of the page, and b) I don't want anyone changing the content of my page, and I have the law to back me up on this. The web page I made, hyperlinks and all, is my creation.

    Users have the right to render web pages in whatever way they see fit. If they choose to parse and annotate them before rendering that is THEIR choice.

    They certainly do. They could switch to Netscape 4.x, Mozilla, Opera, Konqueror, or whatever. However, I am primarily a Microsoft customer. We do custom ActiveX component development for the financial industry. We do a lot of business with MS. As a customer and web developer, I have some problems with smart tag technology and am going to make that known. Other than smart tags, IE6 looks to be a pretty good browser.

    If Microsoft's customers don't want it, don't you think they should at least listen?

    - Rev.
  • by revscat ( 35618 ) on Thursday June 28, 2001 @04:57AM (#123287) Journal
    A List Apart [alistapart.com] has a really excellent overview of Smart Tags (firewall is acting strange... can't get exact link right now...). It gives detailed explanations about why Smart Tags are dumb, both from a legal/copyright standpoint and from a technical standpoint.

    Didja know that to add Smart Tags on someone's system you just have to put in some properly formattted XML at the beginning of your web page? So say you "accidentally" surf to some porn site with this crap in it, now everytime you type a document in Word XP the word "the" is underlined in purple with a link to the porn site only a click away.

    This is an egregious example, but not *too* egregious. It's a good thing that MS is taking these out of IE6, which otherwise looks to be a fairly decent browser. (Still pulling for Mozilla, but increasingly skeptical... <sigh>.)

    - Rev.
  • by csbruce ( 39509 ) on Thursday June 28, 2001 @04:58AM (#123289)
    turn <a href="http://redhat.com">Redhat</a> into plain old Redhat

    No, it would turn the Redhat link into:

    Redhat engineers are weenies
  • The user would still have to click 'Ok' to accept the download of the ActiveX DLL to enable the new tag (unless they had already trusted executable content from that author). This means that an unscrupulous web page author would still need user permission to enable their tags.

    The 'special XML' only creates a tag on the current page, not globally.

    In other words USER permission is always required to enable a smart tag in exactly the same way USER permission is required to download any DLL. Microsoft isn't extending the anchor tag at all here - they are adding a user controlled annotation to web pages which is something very different to publisher controlled linking (ie anchor and xlink).

    Check out the SDK. It has lots of facts you seem to need.
  • Interestingly enough, the news reports I got from Yahoo said that the smart tags were in fact disabled by default. This is what confused me so much about the general media's behavior in the area. The fact that the tags had to be enabled by the users seemed to get lost in the general frothing at the mouth.

    Personally I'm disappointed in the whole thing. I think it is a waste of what could have been a good thing for users. I know MS has a bad record for forcing things on users, but by leaving the tags disabled by default they seemed to be doing the right thing this time. Oh well - I guess MS won't ever do the right thing by the Slashdot crowd.
  • Dude, calm the fuck down. We're talking about smart tags ferchissakes. It's nothing to get your panties in a wad about. The guy disagrees with you. Play nice. People will be more apt to listen to you.

    Yeah, Ok. I probably deserved that. Thanks. I just get tired of the "I don't need to look at facts - it's MS and it must be bad" post that I was was replying to. It's just bigotry at its worst.

    Smart tags were provided by filter DLLs which in turn could be provided by ANYONE, not just Microsoft.

    This is exactly the problem: anyone (and everyone) can add smart tags. I have a problem with this on two fronts: a) smart tag spam, where some unscrupulous web page author throws in a smart tag header at the top of the page,

    Smart tag headers at the top of pages only apply to that page. It's hard to be unscrupulous if you can only modify your own page. If you use the OBJECT tag then the user has to accept the download of executable content (assuming you have the tag digitally signed). In that case, the user is still accepting the tag as something they want and it isn't forced on them.

    and b) I don't want anyone changing the content of my page, and I have the law to back me up on this. The web page I made, hyperlinks and all, is my creation.

    The user has the right to annotate your web pages (automatically through their chosen tags) if they choose for their own private use. There is no law you can invoke that prevents them doing this. Copyright can only be invoked if the user republishes your work - which they aren't doing. If the law was really on your side, do you think LexisNexus would be providing tags?

    If Microsoft's customers don't want it, don't you think they should at least listen?

    Definitely. I've yet to see anyone who actually understood the technology complaining about it. What really happened is that Yahoo put out an article and the whole internet just went mad without any facts behind them. Did you actually download the SDK and read it? If not then shame on you!

  • Let me get this straight. Your whole argument is that Microsoft shouldn't be allowed to create new technology because they might misuse it in the future? That's the most closed minded thing I've heard in years.

    Anyone should be allowed to create new technologies - complain about their leveraging of them when it happens, not because it has the potential of happening.

    When you think about it, all your arguments are paranoid fears of what might happen and not what IS happening. You've even deluded yourself into thinking smart tags are even remotely like normal links - sorry this isn't the case.

    Let me help you out:

    1. Look at some screenshots and get clued up on how smart tags work.
    2. Read the SDK and get clued up on the technology behind them.
    3. Decide whether you really are bigoted enough to say Microsoft shouldn't be allowed to create technology because they might misuse it.
  • Umm... I do use Office XP. I'm not suggesting he was wrong in what he said about Office XP. I'm saying he's wrong in the comment he made saying the tags in IE6 are somehoe different to the tags in Office XP. They arent - they behave the same way and do the same thing.

    I wasn't even Microsoft bashing.

    Read the SDK. Read my other comments. Look at what IE6 actually looks like.
  • I am a person. I would use smart tags if I got to control what filters were enabled and what wasn't.

    You're implying I'm not a person?

    As for the rest of it, it's a strawman. The "people" I was talking about were the ones with a clue, not the ones you suggest I was talking about.

    If anything, you are making the "if you said this other thing then you'd be wrong" argument.
  • What you are asking is whether XML at the top of one page will affect the rendering of another page. Of course it is possible, but only in the most obvious of bugs in the renderer. This isn't even executable code we are talking about here, or a scripting language - just tags.

    Let me ask another question - how are you sure a anchor tag on one HTML page wouldn't affect the same word on another page? It's possible but a very bizzare bug.

    If you want to see the code, download the SDK and look at it.
  • Anyone should be allowed to create new technologies - complain about their leveraging of them when it happens, not because it has the potential of happening.

    Do you apply this logic to Carnivore and Echelon as well? "Sure, go ahead and monitor all my emails and phone calls. I won't complain unless I find out that you misused them."

    Of course I apply the same logic to Carnivore and Echelon. Carnivore and Echelon are the implementation of sniffing technology, and are bad. Sniffing technology in itself isn't bad and is used by network admins and ordinary developers every day. The equivalent would be for you to argue that having network cards with the ability to go into promiscuous mode is bad because Carnivore and Echelon use them. Do you honestly thing libpcap is a bad thing?

    I know how they work. I also know, as does Microsoft, that the majority of nontechnical users will not be able to tell the difference between an actual hyperlink and a smart tag.

    You obviously don't know how they work. You do realize that to follow a smart tag, you don't just click on the word? You hover over the word. An icon appears above the word (alongside the other icons for resizing pictures, cutting and pasting text etc.). You click on the icon. A menu appears with the list of topics provided by all smart tag filter DLLs. You then click on the topic from the popup list. I put it to you that almost ALL nontechnical users will be able to tell the difference between a word you can click on (a link) and a smart tag (the hover/click icon/click menu thing). Because you are too stubborn to see the screen shots, you are just showing off your ignorance. Face it - the user interface for a smart tag is nothing like a link.

    Furthermore, Microsoft also knows that most users rarely install additional software, and will thus be left with the default MS-created set of smart tags.

    How many IE users do you know with Flash installed? How many installed the Comet Cursors? What about Shockwave or Real Audio? Maybe even Quicktime? Users are quite accustomed to downloading plugins and DLLs for their web browser. What makes you think users are going to be any different with smart tags?

    Maybe the initial set of tags are fairly innocent, but it is not unreasonable to believe that that could change.

    It's not unreasonable to believe that Konquerer won't do this as well. In fact, you have (again) decided to go for an as yet unrealized implementation as an excuse for picking on the technology. Going back to Carnivore and Echelon - do you believe libpcap is a bad thing?

    Decide whether you really are bigoted enough to say Microsoft shouldn't be allowed to create technology because they might misuse it.

    As you know perfectly well, nobody is attempting to get smart tags declared illegal. Several people have simply said that they think it's a bad idea. Are you such a bigot that you can't tolerate differing opinions?

    I never said anything about illegality. I'm just saying you seem to think Microsoft (and only Microsoft) doesn't have the right to create new technology. You are entitled to your opinion, and I'll fight for your right to have your own opinions. I just can't help it if your opinion is based on prejudice rather than fact.

  • So read this: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/business/long term/microsoft/documents/gatespart5.htm

    It's a broken link. Got another copy lying around? I'd be interested in reading it (as opposed to some others who won't look at the other side of the argument)...

    Been here, done that. At this moment it is waaay too late. The answer is "stop whining". There will always be vocal people (like you) that will be ready to give yet-another chance to microsoft.

    Hey, I'm ready to give anyone and anything another chance. Linux deserves chances too despite the fact that plenty of "stable" releases at the moment have severe VM problems. Doesn't stop me using it because it works damn well where I do use it.

    What IS happening is that microsoft pushing a techonology that enable them to have even more control than before. What IS happening is that I scream BEFORE they deploy it, not AFTER.

    Remind me again how Smart Tags give Microsoft control when they are an open interface available for anyone to write to? If you don't want them, don't enable them. I can see this is just going around in circles anyway.

    > Let me help you out:

    No thanks. I don't give a fuck about how smart tags works. I don't care about learning how anything microsoft related works. This is irrelevant.

    Fine. Stick your head in the sand. Be ignorant. All I can say is that your attitude is closed minded and you are hurting yourself in the end. No matter which way you look at it, I've more choices and more freedoms than you do because you refuse to look at all options. If you refuse to learn about a technology then you have no right to argue for or against it. Ignorance is never a good platform for conducting an argument.

    So, you are admitting that smart tags technology can be misused.

    Of course it can be misused. EVERYTHING can be misused. I never said it couldn't be misused!!

    At that point, the problem is not *if* microsoft will misuse it, but *when* (Microsoft have misused almost every technology they could get their hands on, from multiple incompatible versions of microsoft basic they burned in various ROM of personal computers maker in the early 80's, to artificial limitation and test in late 80's DOS, to private Windows 3.x API used for imposing their office application in the early 90's or the de-facto desktop OS monopoly used to get a de-facto web-browser monopoly).

    Yes microsoft should not be allowed to create technology they could misuse. In fact, microsoft corporation should be splitted into several different entities, to try to correct the damage already done. Maybe you have heard about that thing. (Note: it is probably not referenced in the smart tags SDK).

    Oh, witty today aren't we? So you wouldn't mind then if the parts of Microsoft that got split up used Smart Tags? How about if Netscape implemented them rather than Microsoft? I only read the SDK because I actually wanted to know what I was talking about. Obviously you are more than happy to argue without that knowledge. Your loss.

    This is my opinion, and I won't move away from it.

    ...and there is the difference between you and I. I'm more than happy to change my opinion if someone proves me wrong. You are not. If someone came out and said Microsoft would be much better off shipping the Smart Tags in Office XP with the web linking stuff enabled, I'd be with the crowd calling them a fool.

    I consider that microsoft have destroyed most of the computer science area (since about the famous "640K ought to be enough for everyone"), and have transformed what was (and still is) my passion into a marketing-driven junk. Call this bigotry if you want, I don't care.

    (Shrug) Whatever. You can believe that, but it reminds me of people who waste their lives bitching about how the South lost the war. The world is the way it is today and nothing will change it. Let's look to the future and make it better for all of us without the irrational prejudices.

    For the record, it is your attitude (looking at Microsoft XP-screenshots, getting the latest Microsoft SDK about the latest junk they produce, evangelizing for the use of a technology without examining the concerns of the others) that I call bigotry. We are all someone else bigot.

    Actually, your definition of a bigot is wrong. The only reason I used the word bigot ("a person who has strong, unreasonable beliefs and who thinks that anyone who does not have the same beliefs is wrong" - Cambridge Dictionary) is the statement refusing to look at a screen shot. Of course since then there's been plenty more. Someone who refuses to even consider the other side of an argument is a bigot. I'm more than happy to consider the arguments against Smart Tags - I just feel they are more founded in prejudice than in reality, fighting the company and not the technology. Of course, I'm always happy for someone to change my mind. It's happened more than once.

  • Fair comment, and I should have recognized it as such the first time.

    Would it be better if I phrased my inital comment as "People should be able to enrich their web surfing if they want to?"
  • You mean like proxy filters that remove the doubleclick ads?

    I take it you understand they are even more insidious as they are removing income from the web site owner because doubleclick doesn't get their hits.

    What about anonymiser.com which does exactly what you describe?

    Actually - it's a very interesting point. I believe in the first case you are possibly running a little on the wrong side but the second case is probably ok because the code is actually installed by the user and not just proxyed.

    IANAL. What do you think?
  • It is not ok for companies to republish your copyrighted material. What it is ok (as far as I understand copyright law) is for the user to annotate your copyrighted work for their own purposes. I believe this comes under "fair use"?

    Microsoft is NOT the only company that provides tags - there are about 30 of them, including some high profile legal firms. Get that part right, please. The user actually enables the tags and so it can easily be said that the user inserts them.

    The user controls whether they want the material annotated or not. They have to specifically enable it.

    What really interests me is why this is suddenly such a big deal with IE, but never was with Office. From my understanding, a lot more commercial contracts are emailed around as Word documents - what happens if you get the Pepsi marketing blurb as a Word doc and find it annotated?
  • Umm.. where did you get that info?

    From the SDK: "First, it is quite possible that the same text is recognized by two different smart tag types. For example, "Greal" could be recognized as a CompanyName and ChemicalName types. In this instance, both smart tags will recognize this text and as a result, a user is presented with a cascading menu where action options from these two different smart tags are combined."

    I think you are mistaken about this whole default thing?

    Smart Tag filters apply to every site, not just your own. They are just given a stream of text to filter using the following method:

    STDMETHODIMP CSTRecognizer::Recognize (BSTR Text, IF_TYPE DataType, INT LocaleID, ISmartTagRecognizerSite * RecognizerSite)

    There is actually no way to restrict your tag to a certain set of sites or documents (that I can see).

    The cross compile is only required if you want to use VC++. If you use Metrowerks or something else then you will be fine. Does VC++ actually do OSX?
  • My understanding from reading through the SDK is that the text from the web page/document is passed to each of the SmartTagger things. Nothing is actually "returned" from the Recognize tag, it is expected to call back to the "Site" for each tag it recognises. The Site (Word/Explorer/Excel) then collates the list of callbacks into a simple 2 level menu (one for each tagger) and hence there is no need for a "default" tagger.

    There is definitely no interface to detect what site you are browsing because the content passed to you isn't necessarily web content - it is sometimes Word documents and sometimes Excel docs.

    I've written to this type of interface before in context menus - calling a whole stack of things to get a list of what to put on that menu.

    As for non-MS compilers: you may be right. To be honest I've never tried and was wonder what your feelings would be. I honestly don't know how hard it is to program COM objects on a Mac, or what the COM support is even like. Thanks for the reply.

    As for your "inflammatory question" - yes, I have. Yes - it was for an MS system (I actually prefer programming Windows to Unix). I know damn well they have plenty of ways to "lock you in" - when programming for Windows if you try to go outside the MS recommended way then you suddenly find yourself writing about ten times as much code as before to get a similar effect.

    I know it's "textbook loadable module" stuff, but I don't think it is implemented anything like the NDIS stack. It's far more like the COM Object stuff with xxx and xxxSite for callbacks.

    Take a look (quickly) at the SDK and send me an email on what you think. I'd value your comments as it does sound like you have more programming experience than I do (only really since 88).
  • Ok. I agree with your last sentence "The only thing that happens when the user turns on smart tags is that the user asks the third party to treat your copyrighted material".

    Now, is it legal for you to present a textbook to a friend and ask them to annotate it before you read it. I think this is a similar case? The fact that it is possibly for commercial gain may change it a little though.

    Is it sufficient for the user to request the annotation, or is that not enough?

    IANAL. I honestly don't know. I thought I had it figured out but you've given me some doubts.
  • Ok. I can respect your point of view now. Maybe I've been putting my argument badly, maybe I'm too tired, maybe I'm just too quick on the flame.

    I was upset that my argument was being rebuffed without being considered. Now I find you had considered it and I feel silly, or feel like I was quite successfully baited. Whichever, your points make sense.

    My main argument was that I was disappointed to see the technology being removed from the browser. I was never really happy with MS even shipping disabled filters with the browser - just not sure how to express my feelings without having the slur come across the technology as well.

    An Office / Windows split may be good for MS. Jackson's split certainly wasn't (the dev tools and COM libs going to Office was just daft). It's a murky problem and I don't envy the next judges job. I hope he does it well.
  • That's an interesting point. I wonder how it will^H^H^H^H would have worked? I guess when I get RC1 I'll find out.

    I know in Office XP there is the 'Options...' tag at the bottom of the menu, but I didn't see it there on the screenshots.

    I'm concerned about MS shipping tags with the browser... even disabled ones. I like the technology and its potential, just (as someone else pointed out) the combination of MS and technology does tend to lead to abuse.

    I guess it comes down to how should you feel when a bad company invents good technology? Personally I like WinXP as a core OS (ignoring the GUI). I like most of BackOffice. I even get along fairly well with Office itself. I just don't like some of the business practices that you get with it. If I didn't know who made things, I would prefer to use Windows+Office+BackOffice+DevStudio over anything available on Linux. Knowing where it comes from gives the dilemma of depriving yourself by depriving MS or helping MS by helping yourself.

    Hell of a position. I tend to help myself, and advocate the technology when I like it. I choose to help MS in the hope that it will end up for the greater good.

    ...it must be late. I'm raving.
  • by throx ( 42621 ) on Thursday June 28, 2001 @05:03AM (#123310) Homepage
    There was nothing wrong with the technology itself (something most people don't seem to realize), just the potential for abuse by Microsoft (who doesn't have a great track record).

    What would have been nice is if the smart tag technology was left in the browser but either left disabled, or even better, left enabled but with no default filter DLLs. That would have given the USER the power to control what they wanted and not Microsoft.
  • by throx ( 42621 ) on Thursday June 28, 2001 @05:34AM (#123311) Homepage
    Wrong. Smart tags are available from many different places. They are just an ActiveX DLL that conforms to a certain interface.

    Check out www.officesmarttags.com for the list of companys already providing tags. If you want even more information go to msdn.microsoft.com and you'll find out that you can write your own Smart Tag filter in about 10 minutes with VB.

    Microsoft no more controlled smart tag content than they controlled where you surf in your browser. Sure they put a lot of default links in your Favorites menu, but it didn't stop you getting to Slashdot did it?
  • by throx ( 42621 ) on Thursday June 28, 2001 @05:25AM (#123312) Homepage
    You forget that copyright only applies if the user republishes the work that they annotated with the smart tags of THEIR choice. Because this is not happening you don't have a legal leg to stand on.

    Do you honestly think LexisNexus would be providing a smart tag filter if there was a legal problem with them? Perhaps you should get a little informed before you go off with bizzare schemes designed to infringe on a user's rights with published material.
  • by throx ( 42621 ) on Thursday June 28, 2001 @05:12AM (#123313) Homepage
    The smart tags in Office XP are IDENTICAL to the smart tags that were going to be in IE6. If you even bothered to do just a little research on msdn.microsoft.com you would have found this out very quickly.

    Smart Tags were simply provided by a filter DLL and could do pretty much anything - the default ones in Office XP just link names to your contact list and so on, but you can enable the ones that link 'MSFT' to investor.msn.com for stock quotes and the like.

    The Smart Tag technology was a great idea. People want to be able to enrich their web surfing - I for one wouldn't mind having a Slashdot tag enabled that provided an option for me to check out related stories on Slashdot - but the thing is most people didn't even understand what Smart Tags were (as evidenced by your post). It would have been good if MS left these in the browser but with NO filters enabled by default. That way a clued in user could simply enable the ones they wanted and browse the web the way they wanted to.

    When it comes down to it, so long as it is the user is in control of what they view there can be no complaint from web publishers. Users have the right to render web pages in whatever way they feel, and if that includes user specified smart tags then I think more power to users is a good thing.
  • Of course, he doesn't mention the fact that ignoring published standards has the same effect

    I would have to disagree on this one. Ignoring standards might force a change in the development of a page, but not in the content. The issue here isn't forcing developers to use MS's "stantards," but on MS's ability to actually alter the web pages themselves. While I can deal with the lack of standards compliance (and I have), the fact that MS can change links on my page at their will is far too disturbing
  • Anyone should be allowed to create new technologies - complain about their leveraging of them when it happens, not because it has the potential of happening.

    Do you apply this logic to Carnivore and Echelon as well? "Sure, go ahead and monitor all my emails and phone calls. I won't complain unless I find out that you misused them."

    When you think about it, all your arguments are paranoid fears of what might happen and not what IS happening.

    Based on their history, it is hardly paranoid to expect Microsoft to abuse and subvert standards for their benefit at the expense of their customers.

    Look at some screenshots and get clued up on how smart tags work.

    I know how they work. I also know, as does Microsoft, that the majority of nontechnical users will not be able to tell the difference between an actual hyperlink and a smart tag. Furthermore, Microsoft also knows that most users rarely install additional software, and will thus be left with the default MS-created set of smart tags. Maybe the initial set of tags are fairly innocent, but it is not unreasonable to believe that that could change.

    Decide whether you really are bigoted enough to say Microsoft shouldn't be allowed to create technology because they might misuse it.

    As you know perfectly well, nobody is attempting to get smart tags declared illegal. Several people have simply said that they think it's a bad idea. Are you such a bigot that you can't tolerate differing opinions?

  • > How many times do you see a URL listed on a web page that isn't a link? It'd be nice if the browser could at least make those links automatically.

    yes, that would be useful.
    Now please correct me if I'm wrong.. but wasn't there a problem in the US where you werent allowed to link to DeCSS, but you WERE allowed to give the link as plain text? Could have some legal implications..

    //rdj
  • the first time (that I can remember) that they have backed off of adding any new feature...

    media manipulation, throwing a crumb to the mob, doing the Orwell Boogie - it'll be back "in a form users can live with". M$ never backs off, they just take a stealthier approach, another route, as always they will prominently claim to be doing X while all the time they continue to do Y. M$ represents the filthy underside of internet tech. Having ruined the text based e-mail standard via executable documents and htmlmail, it now moves on - rewriting the content of others on the fly without permission or discussion.

  • I bet that the only thing Microsoft removes is the Easy GUI way of turning Smart Tags on.

    I don't think they'll even attempt to comment out/remove the Smart Tags code. It might not even be that easy.

    The first person to find the Registry entry that turns Smart Tags back on wins a free beer (or root beer).

  • Can someone please post the link to the information on what META tag must be used to disable the Smart Tags? TIA.
  • by slimme ( 84675 ) on Thursday June 28, 2001 @04:49AM (#123325)
    How to live with smart tags?

    You have got a succesfull site with lots of page hits. You supply your visitors with a lot of material that is copyrighted (copyright owned by you, otherwise you have to make arrangments.). You supply webpages and Microsoft Office documents.

    You don't oppose innovation (and you don't feel like changing your server settings for every possible internet product that gets released), so you will not be turning of smart tags in your webserver.

    Get a copy of IE6 that has smarttags active and send it to the independent party mentioned in the terms of use. Get a copy of office software using smarttags and send them to the independent party for checking how it works with your copyrighted material.

    You add a new part to the terms of use of your website:

    The reuse of copyrighted material available on this website is prohibited without the written consent of the copyright holder (this info should be there now).

    If you wish to change the representation of the copyrighted material you find on this website, a fee has to be payed by the organistion or company that gets a benefit out of the alterations. The intended representation is as seen in IE5 ,Netscape Navigator 4.72 or Opera5 (the code the copyright holde delivered and nothing else). This means there is to be no advertising linked to the content of the page as provided by the copyright holder. The use of easily identifiable advertising that is not linked to the content of the page shown (as currently in Opera5 add sponsored mode) is allowed.

    ***Fees for Non Commercial change in representation.***
    The insertion of a non-commercial (informative) link to a company or organisation that doesn't sell (or which parent company or parent organisation does'nt sell) any product costs $ 10.000 per 3 months. The price for a click through is $ 0.1. To use this tarrif ($ 0.1 per click through) you have to provide the owner of this site every 3 months (before april 15, juli 15, oktober 15 of each year) a list of click through received from changed representations of copyrighted material. If no such information is provided to the owner of the copyrighted materials a fixed amount of $ 10.000 per 3 months has to be payed to the owner of the copyrighted material provided here. THe total maximum cost of this arrangement will thus be $ 20.000 per 3 months.

    ***Fees for Commercial change in representation.***
    The insertion of a commercial link to a company or organisation that does sell (or which parent company or parent organisation does sell) any product costs $ 20.000 per month. The price for a click through is $ 1. To use this tarrif (1 per click through) you have to provide the owner of this site every month (before the 15th of the next month) a list of click through received from changed representations of copyrighted material. If no such information is provided to the owner of the copyrighted materials a fixed amount of 20.000 per month has to be payed to the owner of the copyrighted material provided here.

    The use of changed representations by commercial and non-commercial companies and organisations will be checked by an independent party. Every month this party will check whether changed representations of the copyrighted material are still being used for commercial or non commercial reasons. This independent party wil search for this use and will click on links to establish an unidentified number of click throughs to make sure the information sent to the copyright holder, by the organisations making use of changed representations, contains the right information. These click throughs will not be charged.

    Failure to meet these terms of use will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

    P.S. These terms of use should get you some distance. But to get it realy going, you have to check with a lawyer to make sure this works as intended and secondly, you need an independent party to check your website/material with IE6 or office XP. Then wait for the checks to arrive.

    P.P.S. This system can be used in every country of the world. So if its one down, 240 left to go.

    P.P.S. You didn't ask for them to change your copyrighted material did you?

  • It has always been so: Microsoft pushes and pushes and pushes to see what they can get away with. If nobody bitches, the "features" stay in. If everyone gets pissed off and pushes back, they backpedal almost immediately and with very little resistance. Often they deny they ever inteded to release the disputed feature as part of the production OS.

    You'll notice they used the same strategy in court. Can we get away with a faked video? No... er... Sorry, we gave you the wrong video. Yeah... that's the ticket. We must have left the right one back in Redmond. Yeah... that's it. We wouldn't dream of (getting caught) commiting purjury in federal court, oh no...

  • In a press release today, Microsoft announced the implementation of a new feature called "Smart Icons." These icons, when linked to a program for which Microsoft has a competitive product, will actually execute the Microsoft product instead of the one from their competitiors. "We feel that this will improve the users' computing experience," said a Microsoft marketing person, "Many people use icons incorrectly to run programs written by our competition. These programs are obviously inferior and less innovative than similar Microsoft products." Microsoft claims that this continues their trend of first-class innovation in the industry.
  • It's so obvious that the poster has no idea what Smart Tags are or how they work. I wonder how this post got modded up to +5.

    Smart Tags are a great idea and I, for one, want them. I want my browser to be smart about what I see and automatically provide me the ability to navigate from and gain more information about the words that I see in my window.

    I wish that instead of pulling the feature entirely, they had simply shipped the technology with the Smart Tag recognizers that point to their own stuff being a downloadable add-in (or disabled). That way no one would be able to cry foul about what they shipped because Joe Yahoo! can write his own Smart Tag recognizer to work with the technology, maybe making the links to Yahoo! instead of MSN.

    And for the sake of completeness, the above example assumes, wrongly, that Smart Tags would be installed on your computer without authorization by the user. I have no problem with a pop-up dialog coming up when I visit a porn site that asks me if I want to add a smart-tag recognizer from that site onto my computer.
  • by TomatoMan ( 93630 ) on Thursday June 28, 2001 @04:18AM (#123332) Homepage Journal
    Is this a new MS tactic for avoiding the DOJ? Announce something and see how much public outcry there is before deciding whether to back off it or not? It sure is cheaper than fighting the gov't directly in court and finding out the hard way.

    TomatoMan
  • by Keelor ( 95571 ) on Thursday June 28, 2001 @04:25AM (#123334)
    The smart tags that are included with Office XP, from what I've heard, are entirely different ones than the ones that everyone was up in arms about for IE 6.0. From what I've read, the smart tags in Office are basically Microsoft finally realizing that users don't want their word processor assuming that they need help writing a letter. When a user does something that would trigger an automatic response in prior versions of the software, a smart tag pops up so that people can choose to have help with what they're doing, instead of having to hit undo a bunch of times and scream at their computer that they don't want the poor formatting from the text they just copied and pasted off the web.

    The smart tags for IE 6.0, on the other hand, were considerably more insidious. Walt Mossberg's WSJ column today [wsj.com] makes the argument that Microsoft has a responsibility as the creator of the most used browser to faithfully reproduce the original web page author's intent when their browser displays a page. Of course, he doesn't mention the fact that ignoring published standards has the same effect--not that Microsoft would ever do that.

    ~=Keelor

  • by Aladdin Sane ( 98532 ) on Thursday June 28, 2001 @04:39AM (#123336)
    DumbTag Prevention

    Microsoft, in their wisdom, have devoloped a feature we call "DumbTags" that adds Microsoft chosen links to your pages based on keywords. They have thoughtfully added an opt-out feature, and you can be protected from having your readership redirected by your friends in Redmond if you merely manually update every page and script on your site to include this meta tag:

    <META NAME="MSSmartTagsPreventParsing" CONTENT="TRUE">

    There are a number of valid reasons to reject this opt-out model, and this page explores the possibility of engineering DumbTag free swaths of the internet.

    Suggestions

    Lets consider how DumbTags might be made opt-in through technological means.

    Perl: Change the HTML generation modules such as CGI.pm to automatically add the protection unless the meta tag is defined.

    PHP: Add a preprocessing phase where the protective tag is automatically inserted into head blocks?

    Web Servers, Proxy Servers: addition of a default filter that adds the protective meta tag automatically to pages unless overridden. Server users could of course turn off this feature...

    Tools

    Automated Removal: We are looking for links to programs that can traverse directories and automatically update static HTML files with protection.

    Advocacy

    What you can do to stop DumbTags:

    • Add the meta tags to your pages and scripts.
    • Don't forget to call them DumbTags.
    • Tell your friends.
    • Lobby your favorite tool makers to provide automated protection to your works.
    • Don't use products that implement them.

    Please send feedback, suggestions, and comments to shaun@atrium.com [mailto].

    From www.atrium.com/dumbtags.html [atrium.com]

  • Said the IE 6 product manager. "We can't include Smart Tags if they don't require rebooting!"
  • The smart tags that are included with Office XP, from what I've heard, are entirely different ones than the ones that everyone was up in arms about for IE 6.0. From what I've read, the smart tags in Office are basically Microsoft finally realizing that users don't want their word processor assuming that they need help writing a letter. When a user does something that would trigger an automatic response in prior versions of the software, a smart tag pops up so that people can choose to have help with what they're doing, instead of having to hit undo a bunch of times and scream at their computer that they don't want the poor formatting from the text they just copied and pasted off the web.

    I don't know what product you used but it definitely was not Office XP. In Outlook I noticed SmartTags in the following scenarios
    1. I type a date and I get a Smart Tag menu that prompts me to see if I want to schedule a meeting on that date or if I want to see my calendar for that date.

    2. I type a name and I get a Smart Tag menu that prompts me to see if I want to send the person an email or add the person to my contact list.

    3. I type an address I get a Smart Tag menu that prompts me to see if I want driving directions that links Expedia [expedia.com].
    This is the same technology that would have been used in MSIE just that most of the Smart Tags would have been of the last type. Do you actually use IE 6.0 or Office XP or was this just a speculative opinion?

    --
  • Fear: When you see B8 00 4C CD 21 and know what it means

    MOV AX,4C00
    INT 21

    Terminate. I don't however, get the "fear" reference...

    --
  • NOOOOOOOOOO!!! It's already bad enough when you try to post some C++ code to a newsgroup and it turns your comments into file://

    What's so hard about highlight ctrl-c ctrl-v anyway?

  • But they're staying in Office XP, yet not in IE6? I thought Office XP used the IE component for rendering HTML?

    What would probably make the most sense in that case is to just incorporate SmartTags into 6.0 but not have the checkbox to turn it on available in the preferences.

  • b) I don't want anyone changing the content of my page, and I have the law to back me up on this.

    Sorry, but if you are aware of the "infringement", and do nothing about it, you have just given an implicit license. Since you know about the SmartTags feature, and choose not to disable it with the META tag, you have given an implicit license to Microsoft.

  • Wrong. Smart tags are available from many different places. They are just an ActiveX DLL that conforms to a certain interface.

    This is correct. The interface is a chained callback architechture, similar to NDIS packet reception, where SmartTag processors get called in a linear fashion, and then one decides to return a 1 (or whatever), indicating that _it_ will be the one intercepting the SmartTag.

    While this allows a 3rd party to design an ActiveX SmartTag interceptor, and insert it before the "default" interceptor, the default one will be written by MS, and return "SmartLinks" (oxymoron?) at their discretion. Conventional wisdom regarding browser security suggests that a SmartTag interceptor ActiveX thingy will only apply to pages delivered by the web server (or domain) from which the SmartTag interceptor originated, meaning if you do take the time to write a SmartTag interceptor, it will only apply to your site(s), thereby giving the M$ "default" handler dominion on all other sites. Not to mention, the SmartTag ActiveX thingy will have to be signed, inserting a new monetary obstacle for web designers to overcome.

    Now, let's see, since it's a DLL, I suppose any SmartTag providers will have to code a different verion for IE/Mac. No doubt using a different interface, and of course, you'll have to pay the $2500 add'l to cross-compile for Mac under VC++. Oh, and who gets to make the default SmartTag processor for IE/Mac?

  • Where do I get that information? It is obvious on its face. Your post, a user is presented with a cascading menu where action options from these two different smart tags are combined actually supports the concept of a "default" SmartTagger[tm].

    The browser will have to maintain a registry of SmartTagger[tm] applets, so it can call them. There will no doubt be a default SmartTagger[tm] to work when there are no other applets, handle words that are not SmartTagged by any of the additional applets, and to provide additional SmartTags for those that are. And this is not going to be a simple hash of words mapping to links, because that would not allow for sensing the context of a word. That's why an entry is defined to Recognize. Additionally, I did not rule out the possibility of multiple SmartTagger[tm] applets recognizing the same words. In fact, the NDIS packet reception architechture I point to in my original post allows multiple listeners to receive the same packet.

    About the tying to the site of origin, let's see, well for one, it would be a total clusterfuck if they did not do this. The wrong SmartTags will be at the top of that list, if they are intercepted first (or assigned a higher score) by a different SmartTagger[tm] than the one you wrote for your site. And b) uh you'd probably have to have a tag similar to a <APPLET> tag just to reference your SmartTagger[tm], which in itself could be sufficient to restrict access of your SmartTagger[tm] to your own site. Of course, M$ will probably allow for "certified" SmartTagger[tm] applets to be resident at all times, provided they meet all the criteria for certification, including a healthy certification fee.

    Using a non-MS compiler on the Mac will no doubt leave you without certain .h files that define the interface. If you've ever actually written any serious code against a MS SDK (as I have), you know that every include file references proprietary shit defined in some other one, making it a practical impossibility to migrate to a different toolset. Not impossible, just practically impossible. You'd have to be foolish to attempt it because as soon as the next round of bugfixes comes from them, you'll be presented with a new porting issue.

    So my inflammatory question to you is: ever written any real code? And by "Real" I mean something that has an installed base exceeding 1000 users. Perhaps you have, but I doubt it ran in a Microsoft environment. They have 1001 ways to lock you in, force you out, eat your lunch, and take your money. Besides, this is textbook loadable module crap I am talking about.

  • Sorry to reply to my own post. Just one parting shot: there is no way in hell M$ is going to let AOL plant on every Windows machine a SmartTagger[tm] that gives priority to AOL choices in SmartTagging. Think about that... Perhaps that is why they withdrew the technology, they've not figured out a way to lock AOL out yet.
  • http://www.redhat.com/ could become http://www.redhat.com/ [microsoft.com] or even http://www.microsoft.com/ [microsoft.com].

    It is linkified alright, but remember, where do they want you to go today?

  • I believe paranoia has slightly blurred your vision of what's actually going on here with SmartTags(tm). There is no content modification, rather SmartTags are theoretically supposed to supplement content. Its not like you type up a Word document, and MS inserts words here, deletes words there, and modifies your header.

    Microsoft is only arrogant audacious enough to make a crapload of money, which btw, they do a damn good job at

  • Blockquoth the poster:
    What other reasons are there to resist these smart tags?
    How about, to preserve the integrity of an author's design? Smart Tags are a way for an outside agency to modify my pages on the fly, in ways I do not approve of. Why should I, or any author, surrender that control? How can it possibly be good for a third party to intervene between me and my readers?

    Smart Tags are just another way to wedge in control and wrest it from content creators toward content "providers" and content controllers.

  • Blockquoth the poster:
    Sorry, but if you are aware of the "infringement", and do nothing about it, you have just given an implicit license.
    This is, of course, utter nonsense.

    First, one need not defend copyright the way one needs defend a trademark. Copyright doesn't cease to apply simply because I haven't sued anyone yet.

    Second, you're essentially saying that Microsoft, or any other company, could render all of my pages public domain by introducing a browser that sprinkles "Brought to you by Microsoft" in the page. Since I haven't disabled it, I'm not protecting my copyright... so it's public domain. Er?

    Third, what about sites that have been around for years or are extremely large? If they were standards-compliant before, why should the burden fall upon me to "fix" something that wasn't broken? It would seem that it would be Microsoft's responsibility to make this work, not mine.

  • Well, I strongly resent the label that was applied to me... Bigoted I might be (though I believe not), but I like to think of myself as far from typical... :)

    Just for the record, I have looked at the screenshots, as well as much of what Microsoft has said about SmartTags. I've also read, for example, the Washington Post article about how Microsoft SmartTags would be sprinkled on the Post's sports pages. Admittedly, I haven't downloaded and played with the SDK. I honestly don't think it's necessary to invest intensely in a piece of software before drawing some conclusions about its fundamental utility.

    Anyway, the rants have taken off far better than I could, so I'll end it here.

  • by gilroy ( 155262 ) on Thursday June 28, 2001 @04:54AM (#123374) Homepage Journal
    Blockquoth the poster:
    The suggested links aren't even as blatantly pro-Microsoft as you might think.
    I don't care if the example linked to Dr. Seuss and a page of smileys. The issue is not the content, per se, of the Smart Tags. The issue is that Microsoft is attempting wrest control of the content, layout, and linkage of a page away from the creator of a page. They have no business doing that. If I wanted to offer my readers access to, say, MSFT on the market, I'd put a link in for them. If they want to see MSFT on the market, they can open their favorite page to check stocks. Microsoft has no business being in this transaction, overlayering its preferences, habits, and designs on us.

    It might be paranoid slippery-slope reasoning, but why should I believe the innocuous nature of a thing offered for public consumption? Even as described by Microsoft this system has tremendous potential for corporate abuse... I don't need to see a screenshot of the more nefarious parts in action just to know that they're lurking out there.

  • Well, it could at least recognize protocol:// URLs. So it wouldn't linkify www.wherever.tld, but http://www.wherever.tld/, nntp://news.wherever.tld, ftp://user:password@ftp.wherever.tld:port and telnet://wherever.tld:port would all be linkified.
  • by DeeKayWon ( 155842 ) on Thursday June 28, 2001 @04:55AM (#123376)
    I'd much rather see a browser do what many mail clients have been doing for years and linkify plaintext URLs. That is,
    http://www.redhat.com/
    would become
    And I wouldn't have to deal with copy and paste all the damn time.
  • by been42 ( 160065 ) on Thursday June 28, 2001 @04:35AM (#123377) Homepage

    But they're staying in Office XP, yet not in IE6? I thought Office XP used the IE component for rendering HTML?

    No, silly! That would mean that IE and Windows were 'seamlessly integrated' and that Windows wouldn't function properly without IE and Microsoft would be forced to bundle Internet Explorer with Windows...

    wait a minute...seems there is something a little funny about that, but I can't quite put my finger on it.

  • Haven't we had court cases that ruled that "framing" someone else's content was not permitted?

    How fast would I get a letter from microsoft if I put up a proxy server that inserted "slashdot tags" in MSNBC's content?
  • by sqlrob ( 173498 ) on Thursday June 28, 2001 @05:07AM (#123380)
    Nope, clippy is supplied with XP.

    He's just off by default.
  • by duvel ( 173522 ) on Thursday June 28, 2001 @04:45AM (#123381) Homepage
    Microsoft did not omit the smart tags because of the noise generated by protesters on /. . Everyone (and especially everyone that reads /. regularly) has known for a long time now that Microsoft doesn't give a rat's ass about whether or not people like what they are doing. The story about mandatory MS Passport usage on this site just a few hours ago was yet another example of that.

    Microsoft is however concerned about whether or not they are able to sell their products. In my company (big bank) management had allready decided to update our entire website so it couldn't be smart-tagged. Seems our management would have a problem with the fact Microsoft links every occurance of the words 'bank', 'loan', etc. to one of our competitors. Not that we mind advertisements. We just mind other banks advertising on our site. If other companies have reacted the same (as can be expected) and word of this has gotten out to Microsoft, it's no wonder they've reverted their decision. It'll make sure they'll sell more, so removing the Smart Tags is a Smart Move(tm).

    The cynic in me sees a strange result of this decision: if Microsoft is able to embed Smart Tags in their OS, but leave it out of their browser, then perhaps the OS and the browser are not one and the same, contrary to Microsoft's defense in the Monopoly case. Just a thought.

  • I've got
    <meta name="MSSmartTagsPreventParsing" content="TRUE">
    Attached to the headers of all my web pages, and they aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

    But they're staying in Office XP, yet not in IE6? I thought Office XP used the IE component for rendering HTML?

  • Smart tag headers at the top of pages only apply to that page.

    Do you know that for sure?

    MS software has a laundry list of unintended uses/abuses. Word macro viruses, those damn .vbs attachments in Outlook, etc. (There are more, I'm just too tired to look them up now.)

    I haven't seen the code, so I don't know how it could be abused, and given the MS track record on "functionality", I don't like it.

    I fully expect that if it were rolled out, an exploit, would be found within weeks, if not days.
  • I was under the impression that it was possible to have some meta tags that would disable the smart tags if you were so inclined.
  • well, they have certainly surpassed the Linux version of IE.

    Though I hardly think that proves anything :-)
  • Hmmm.. how do SmartTags stand when it comes to IP and copywrite? They are, in effect, taking the web page you have published and changing it (by adding the keyword sensitive links), and then displaying it to the end user.

    Yes, it's like intercepting your local TV station's signal and inserting advertisements for your company, and then broadcasting it to the rest of the city. I'm pretty sure that is illegal. What they are essentially doing is stealing advertising space from your web page without compensating you. I think that there could be a lot of copyright issues here.

    I wonder what happens if I make the word "Redhat" a link to www.redhat.com [redhat.com] and the MS-default smart tags make the keyword "Redhat" into a link to Craig Mundie's anti-GPL/open source speeches? Which link wins out win you click on it?

    What if I make an image a link to a web site? Maybe I have a "powered by Apache" logo that links back to www.apache.org [apache.org]. Will it parse the filename of the image looking for keywords and make my apache.png a link to the IIS web site? Will it parse my ALT tags for that link as well?

    Say "NO!" to tax money for religious groups. [thedaythatcounts.org]
  • We can at least hope. Maybe, eventually, they'll even get rid of Clippy.

    Um...don't you remember the news? Clippy got canned from Office XP. MS even had a web page set up that was supposed to be like a "Clippy web log" that had his "resume" and other stupid crap on it. It was generally hailed as one of the best moves that MS has ever made. If it wasn't for the fact that Office XP is even more big-brother-like than previous versions of Office, it might be worth the upgrade just to get rid of him. In fact, I wouldn't be suprised to find out that MS planned on it being a "key feature" of the upgrade for many users.

    Say "NO!" to tax money for religious groups. [thedaythatcounts.org]
  • If you want to compare them to the TV world, Smart Tags are closer in nature to the brightness, contrast, and tint controls - they allow a user to alter the presentation of a signal (page) they've received to suit their own needs.

    I'm not quite sure how you can see that as the case. Smart tags allow third-parties (not end-users or content producers) to intercept (parse before presentation) my content and then tag portions of it with links to information that they (or their advertisers) provide. This information may or may not be relevant to my content. It may even be contrary to the message that I am trying to get across. Either way, smart tags sit between the user and the content and repackage content to suit a 3rd parties needs. That is exactly the example that I provided.

    The key difference is that it's a third party who is modifying my information to suit their (the third party's) needs, not the end-user.

    Say "NO!" to tax money for religious groups. [thedaythatcounts.org]
  • by ocbwilg ( 259828 ) on Thursday June 28, 2001 @04:50AM (#123417)
    According to MS, that is the correct META tag. The relevant link to Microsoft's site is: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/preview/smartt ags/default.asp [microsoft.com]

    Of course, what they're really doing is secretly re-writing the smart tag code so that the META tag doesn't work. Then they'll sneak it out in a "service pack" for IE 6. Yeah, that's it!

    How's that? Informative AND a parnoid flame, all in one post!

    Say "NO!" to tax money for religious groups. [thedaythatcounts.org]
  • by ocbwilg ( 259828 ) on Thursday June 28, 2001 @05:04AM (#123418)
    How about, to preserve the integrity of an author's design? Smart Tags are a way for an outside agency to modify my pages on the fly, in ways I do not approve of. Why should I, or any author, surrender that control? How can it possibly be good for a third party to intervene between me and my readers?

    I think that there should be a web page designed by the open source community and copyrighted. Then when people view it with MS Smart Tag enabled browsers and tags start popping up that point to other sites, we can sue them for copyright violation. Or file some suits that claim that their use of smart tags violates the look and feel of our web design.

    I mean, sure you can opt out of it. But that's like saying that you can opt out of junk mail or telephone solicitiors. You shouldn't *HAVE* to opt out. It should be an opt-in if you want Smart Tags to be able to deface...er...modify the appearance of your page. Especially since a cleverly designed smart tag could easily completely change the idea, purpose, or concept that you are trying to get aross to your page viewers.

    Most commercial web sites (in order to protect their integrity) will notify you if a link that they provide leads to another web site (and that they don't control or necessarily even endorse what is written there). They don't want to create even the impression that they support everything that they link to. How can you combat that with Smart Tags? Put a disclaimer at the top of your page saying that any link on your page probably goes somewhere that you didn't intend it to, nor want it to, nor do you control the content of the site linked to or even your own site? Once again, you can opt out. But if MS really believes that this is in the users' and the content providers' best interests, then they will make sure that it ISN'T the default and make sure that it IS opt-in only. Then let the market judge it on it's merits.

    Say "NO!" to tax money for religious groups. [thedaythatcounts.org]
  • I'm not so sure. If that were true, they'd be removing the auto-registration feature too, because there's been a bigger stink about that lately than about SmartTags.

    Maybe they just couldn't get them wokring properly, or maybe they were afraid of the legal ramifications.

    "What are we going to do tonight, Bill?"

  • by tb3 ( 313150 ) on Thursday June 28, 2001 @04:57AM (#123423) Homepage
    According to The Reg, there is already an Apache module called mod_layout [tangent.org] that will do this for you.

    I don't know that much about Apache, but it looks pretty simple to use.

    "What are we going to do tonight, Bill?"

  • by dslbrian ( 318993 ) on Thursday June 28, 2001 @06:01AM (#123424)
    Wouldn't the better method to block it be to modify Apache to automatically include the relevant statements on all web pages? After all, if MS wants to use its position as the dominant browser to instigate this, its only fitting to use the dominant web server to block it.
  • Looks like the "meeting of the minds" by several state governments actually shot M$ a dose of reality. I almost wish they'd gone ahead and included the Smart Tags. That would have given more ammunition for antitrust suits.

    Now the question is, should the Open Source community start experimenting for alternatives to Smart Tags and try to beat M$ to the punch? Or is that just paving the way for further nasties?

    GreyPoopon
    --

  • (1) Yes, they heard someone talking and decided it was rather an unpopular concept; but...

    (2) they are not averse to resurrecting it in a later version.

    To me, this is one of the most telling, and puzzling, parts of the tale. Microsoft have for years stated that changes to interfaces and methodologies come about as the direct result of testing with everyday users. (Presumably this is why they've thrown out all the old manuals ever written on how to design a user interface -- remember "consistency within menus" or "safer/safest button should be the default"?)

    So why, if they've accepted this is an unpopular concept, have they taken it out only to keep it in scope for future versions? What does this say about how much attention they really pay to what users want?

    I'm not a bash-MS-regardless type, but this and other recent policies (specifically the whole licensing idiocy) are really beginning to vex me.
  • For your own free preview of the hell that is smart tags, download Napster-alternative KaZaA [kazaa.com]. If you allow the Hot Text to be enabled, it seems to invade Internet Explorer and match on certain keywords, putting a hideous green underline beneath the word, with no trace of the links in the source code. For them, it seems to be a form of paid advertising. Not only is it obnoxious as hell, it dramatically increases the instability of the browser.

    It seems that they've licensed some technology from eZula [ezula.com] called HOTText [ezula.com].

    If you want to see just how obnoxious these smart tags will be, give it a whirl. You have to wonder if there's a patent suit coming up on this (M$ vs. eZula).

If in any problem you find yourself doing an immense amount of work, the answer can be obtained by simple inspection.

Working...