Microsoft to release ad blocker for Explorer

Software giant's new application will prevent pop-up advertising from interrupting Web surfing

Microsoft will soon release a new feature for its popular Web browser, Internet Explorer, that will block pop-up advertising.

The blocker will be available to computer users who use the Windows XP operating system, as part of a new package of security updates called Service Pack 2, set for release in June. Along with the pop-up blocker, the service pack includes other changes to protect against computer viruses and worms.

"Internet Explorer will detect that a pop-up or pop-under window is unwanted if it doesn't directly result from the customer's clicking on a link on a Web page," Microsoft spokeswoman Tina Austinson said in an e-mail. The blocker will be on by default.

To see a browser window that is being blocked, a user needs to click on a bar at the top of the screen for the blocked window to come up, Austinson said. This feature would block pop-ups from such Web sites as AU Webmail as well as unwanted pop-up advertising.

A preview version of the service pack can be downloaded from Microsoft's Web site, www.microsoft.com, Austinson said.

A customer support representative for X10, a company known for pop-ups that advertise its wireless cameras, said that the Internet Explorer blocker would not adversely affect his company. The pop-ups bring in customers even though pop-up blockers have been around for several years, including downloadable software or the Web browser Mozilla, he said.

"To be honest, most people are computer illiterate and don't know how to use these features," said an X10 representative, who did not want to be identified.

According to Stu Ginsburg of the Internet Advertising Bureau, an association that represents companies that use electronic ads, X10 uses the Internet's second-largest number of pop-ups. The travel Web site Orbitz uses the most, Ginsburg said.

The X10 representative said pop-up advertising is "a minor part of our business." The company relies on advertising through e-mail and banner ads on Web sites.

The Internet Explorer blocker would probably make X10 "just move to another marketing strategy," the representative said.

AU computer science professor Vincent Ribiere said companies would learn to adapt to the blocker, mostly by designing Web pages differently.

"There could still be pop-ups, but in a different way that the program can't block," Ribiere said. People who create unwanted e-mail spam and computer viruses also change their techniques often, he said.

"For sure this is going to solve the problem temporarily," he said. "I'm just worried that people will come up with something worse or as bad as pop-ups."

Despite the fact that he was not worried about the blocker, the X10 representative said he did not agree with it.

"Much of the free portion of the Internet is paid for through advertising," he said. "It would be like taking commercials off television"

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