Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is on the receiving end of scrutiny, after the Chief Operating Officers of Coke, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT), The Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE:PG) and 30 other huge advertisers signed a letter, protesting the ‘Do Not Track’ function in Microsoft’s yet to be launched Internet Explorer 10.
The Internet Explorer 10, which is expected to be bundled together with other features in the highly anticipated Windows 8, will launch with a default DNT position. DNT essentially allows consumers to browse in private, without the presence of shadowing cookies. This implies that advertisers will not be able to directly target promising consumers.
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While the default DNT approach takes an evident slant towards consumers’ privacy, it leaves advertisers in a rather compromising situation. The advertisers, who annually spend $2.8 billion, via Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), uniformly protested in the letter, declaring that Microsoft’s move was wrong.
Key highlights from the letter say,
‘Microsoft’s announcement has been uniformly met with outrage, opposition and declarations that Microsoft’s action is wrong.’
A deeper read into the letter also reveals that Jon Leibowitz, the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, sides with the disgruntled advertisers. Despite Leibowitz having an earlier positive response to Microsoft’s DNT announcement, he later released a statement, noting that the right standard for the DNT function was a default ‘off’.
Leibowitz and the disappointed advertisers have been joined by Apache, a software provider. Apache, which supports close to two thirds of the website offerings on the internet, notes that Microsoft’s actions can be best be described as a “ deliberate abuse of open standards”. In fact, Apache has designed its software to automatically ignore the DNT setting in the Internet Explorer 10.
Paints an ugly picture
The blatant protests paint an ugly picture for Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT). Why is this so? Not only is it rare for advertisers to publicly air the disputes they have with their media sellers, but it is also absurdly rare and unusual for them to inflict this kind of PR damage.
To further aggravate the situation, the advertisers have overlooked their personal relations, in favor of the unified protest. The letter is perhaps one of the most humiliating experiences in Microsoft’s stable. For some people, the letter is considered to be a veiled response towards a blog post penned by Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s Chief Privacy Officer, Brendon Lynch. The blog post argues for the DNT function, citing justified reasons for the function.
Apart from Coke, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) and The Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE:PG), other big names that signed the letter include Verizon, Kraft Foods Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:KRFT), Unilever plc (LON:ULVR), and automobile heavyweight, Ford, among others.