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In the light of Fast, AV, and Google's concerted drives into foreign, regional markets, it's good to see that many are following Microsoft and AOL in their under-reported fight for ultimate Net supremacy.
The slick attempt to implement or foist Smart Tags on unsuspecting users gives an indication of how far the big boys are prepared to go. The future of the Net is at stake.
John Robb [jrobb.userland.com] offers the following perspective:
"SmartTags are a weapon in a struggle of titans. Microsoft is at WAR with AOL. The Web isn't the battleground, it's in Microsoft's camp.
Microsoft's user experience is disorderly while AOL's is slick. SmartTags are a way to tie together all of Microsoft's content (Yahoo through Davenet) in a way that makes it potentially as seamless an experience as AOL's content. It puts uniforms on Microsoft's troops."
The question we should be asking is, "Which version of IE6 will introduce Smart Tags to the new 'user experience' and how do we stop it?"
Microsoft "Smart Tag" technology could violate both copyright law and federal rules prohibiting deceptive and unfair business practices.
by embedding Smart Tags on Web sites without the express permission of the site owners, Microsoft could be accused of creating "derivative works," that is, unauthorized, edited copies of the Web site content that users are attempting to visit.
Also Robert Scoble is reporting that Microsoft is changing the Smart Tag Implimentation a great deal. The biggest change is the removal of the user over ride of the SmartTag OptOut option:
In a few years, we'll have 1500 meta tags on all of our pages to opt out of all the programs we don't want our sites to be a part of.
Incidentally, there is a very good article that sums up the issues related to smart tags at [URL]http://www.alistapart.com/stories/smarttags/index.html[/URL].
Another thing on my mind today, is I wonder how the search engines feel about Smart Tags? They have the ability to make Microsoft the number one search engine on the net - 100% surpassing the search engines.
Maybe this is why we see a Google trial ballon for an IPO.
It seems that with the inclusion of Smart Tags in the latest version of IE6, the 'Beast of Redmond' (with thanks to The Standard) rolls on regardless. All seem powerless to stop its inexorable march to dominance. Whether we want to or not remains irrelevant for as long as we’re not up to speed on what’s happening out there.
Why are we hanging on to the shirttails of this fast-breaking bit of Web-napping? We seem to lack the critical acuity and analytical skills to pre-empt Microsoft's moves and our responses are reactionary rather than informed by the knowledge readily available to us.
The material people like Winer put out deserves more than the attention given to the information processing and digestion demanded by press releases. In short, we need detailed direction on our bulletin boards from our techies, developers, and anybody else in the know.
I am not a techie. This is not my field of expertise. I do, however, want to know what is going on.
If people are serious about forecasting the future of Search, I'd be most keen to hear the views of the informed on UDDI [uddi.org] which, after XML, SOAP, and WSDL, is the next major innovation in Microsoft's armamentarium.
Believe me, this is on topic. Whether you can turn these things on or off is beside the point - that button is still on the toolbars of millions of browsers. Smart Tags, UDDI, etc. all point to a future where either the Web is dominated by Microsoft, it fragments, or it sees out a protracted and meaningless war between the boys after the bucks.
Search either has to fall in with what the future holds or do something about it. Agree with me or not, I believe Gates is the only person with the vision and liquidity capable of mounting a major onslaught on our new technologies. Whether this is a good or bad thing, is debatable.
Feints by Sun, Oracle et al by way of threatening new court actions related to Microsoft abuse of monopoly through dissemination of Windows XP are just that, i.e. strategic feints of those left in the dust. The original anti-trust ruling will be palmed off to a lower court for a re-hearing and will take years to conclude. By that time...
For those not keen on divining the future, Microsoft [microsoft.com] gives you the lowdown on the present status of IE6 and their Smart Tags.
BTW, while the future is not yet cast in stone - see what Adam Bosworth has to say on the progress of WSDL [xmlmag.com] - it is setting fast.
And is it really worth it at this stage of the game? I foresee many twists and turns on the road to Hailstorm and full web-service utilization. Perhaps a more muted approach will be possible when the initial shock of this impingement wears off or sinks in?