Microsoft caves to criticism, drops Smart Tags

Microsoft has decided to drop the controversial Smart Tags feature from its forthcoming Windows XP release. The feature will not appear in the final version of the operating system, scheduled for release 25 October or in the new Web browser Internet Explorer 6.0, the company said Thursday.

The feature was eliminated "based on feedback we got in general from both partners and users," said Milo Schaap, a Microsoft product manager in the Netherlands. "That's a good example of why we, like any vendor of software, have a beta program."

The software giant has come under increasing fire for the planned feature, which scans keywords in user documents and offers links to related Web sites, many of them operated by Microsoft entities or partners. Critics have accused Microsoft of trying to leverage its dominance in the operating system field to beat competitors in the Internet sphere.

Smart Tags already operate in Office XP, launched in late May, providing, for example, links from company stock symbols to relevant information on Microsoft's MSN MoneyCentral site.

"We still very much believe in the possibilities and the techniques that Smart Tags will bring to users of Office and Windows at a later stage," Schaap said. "Having said that, we feel that looking at the user experience, there needs to be a balance in what the user actually uses and experiences to the needs and the demands by the content providers ... and we feel that we did not adequately get that balance between those two groups."

Schaap and a colleague, Product Manager Robert Fransen, could not say when or whether Smart Tags will finally be rolled out. But they rejected the suggestion by critics that Microsoft is using the feature in an attempt to bully its way into dominance of the Internet.

"I'm very sad that this all is put in that perspective," Fransen said, "because Smart Tags are an open and extensive technology. Everybody can write Smart Tags; we offer all content providers an opportunity to distribute their Smart Tags, and there is no point of us misusing Smart Tags."

Last week Microsoft officials in Europe said the company would offer only minimal Smart Tags in software sold outside the US.

"The reason why we don't put American Smart Tags in European products like Windows and Office XP is that they don't offer functionality to European users. There's no point in having an American phone number for users in Holland or wherever," Fransen said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Rick Perera

PC World
Show Comments





Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?