Micro$oft Smart Tags

Smart Tags are a feature implemented into Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6.0 which can automatically add links to certain words or phrases. They are represented by "purple squiggly lines" underneath chosen words in your text. These are inserted automatically when Microsoft's software detects certain 'trigger' words, such as "Microsoft" or "Photoshop".

Microsoft think these are useful and that they can provide additional links to web sites giving more information on the chosen words. They can also be setup to recognise words that match an expression or proper name.

What's wrong with them?
For a start, they are added by Microsoft's software, so web designers and maintainers aren't aware that certain words on their pages are being modified and linking to unintentional sites. Because they are added without the author's permission, or knowledge, and they effectively modify the content on the web page, they also infringe the web site owners copyright by creating a "derivative work".

They can also change the subject content of web sites. Say, for example, that I wanted to create an anti-Microsoft site. If everytime I mentioned the word "Microsoft" it became a link to a positive Microsoft advert or more information on Microsoft's own site, people would wonder why negative comments linked back to positive content. This is not only confusing but mis-representing the original website authors intent.

What Microsoft think
"We believe in total empowerment of the user to decide what content they want to look at," said Microsoft group product manager for Windows Client, Shawn Sanford. "Everybody tends to focus on the negative side of this like we're going to expose (users) to a lot of bad content ... I think we're going to expose people to a lot of good content." - quote from NewsBytes

So, we have conclusive proof that Microsoft are intending to provide biased corruption of web sites, without the author or unwitting visitors knowledge.

Microsoft leverage
According to Guernsey Research analyst Chris LeTocq, "This gives Microsoft some powerful leverage, particularly since the company can use its products to redirect users to MSN Web properties and eventually sites 'with premium paid services'.". He added, "Wouldn't that be something? You spend millions of dollars designing a web site, and Microsoft has a Smart Tag that sends (users) to one of (Microsoft's) own sites."

The full text of this story is available at

How to disable Smart Tags
It does appear that you can disable Smart Tags by embedding a meta tag in your HTML documents. This will prevent Explorer from adding its Smart Tags. However, we don't know if Microsoft will remove the facility to understand this, so we would urge everyone to either lobby Microsoft or to boycott their products altogether.

The meta tag you require is:

<meta name="MSSmartTagsPreventParsing" content="TRUE">

Simply add it to the header section of all your web pages and it should disable Smart Tags.

All pages on the server currently incorporate this meta tag.

Links to more information
However, don't take my word for it. Carry out your own research and make up your own mind by visiting the following sites:-

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Last edit: 10th Apr 2016 at 1:59pm
(2968 days ago)

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