The bane of all that is fair and decent in Web publishing. Okay, maybe that's a little harsh but Microsoft's plan to insert these so-called smart tags (which link to Microsoft sponsored sites) into any page that you browse or any document that you publish would be quite detrimental to authors and editors because it basically modifies your document without the permission of the source.

There are plans to have this included as a "feature" on Windows XP but the public furor over it may cause Microsoft to have second thoughts.

It's an interesting spin on how we include hard links on our WUs here on E2...except that the author would have no control over the links being added.

This sort of behavior was formerly used by DejaNews. The Usenet articles, when viewed in full HTML mode, had links from popular trademarked works to the advertiser's websites.

Personally, I think this "smart" idea will meet the same fate as Deja's advertisement bombardment had: People will get annoyed about it and use something better¹. At least Microsoft promised this option would be optional... This sort of linking can be very, very confusing.

(Also, people think this linking is similiar to E2's linking - it smells more like Wiki, though, because E2 will only have specifically linked words (hardlinks) and links created by traversing links (softlinks), and Wiki uses automatically linked words between nodes. Even then, it's different...)

¹ in Deja's case, I always linked to text versions of the articles - those didn't have any advertising. Deja is now owned by Google, and Google's web advertising scheme is much less obstructing than link bombardment.

Microsoft dropped smart tag support in Windows XP and IE 6. They were not included in either shipping product. The following information was written prior to this disclosure by Microsoft.

"Smart Tags" are used in Office XP and Internet Explorer 6.0, not Windows XP (as of pre-release candidate 1).

The way Smart Tags work in Internet Explorer is, after the page is loaded by the browser, it is scanned for certain words, such as "Microsoft" or "AOL." When the text string is found, it is given a unique underline to differentiate it from other hyperlinks; the underline is purple, and is squiggly much like the line under misspelled words in Office. When the mouse is placed over the Smart Tag link, a small square appears above or below the link with a yellow circle and the letter "i," presumably for "information." The user can then click the "i" to open a small tooltip that holds information about the Smart Tag, such as the actual link to its target, information about the link or the word highlighted, etc. It is not invasive, and is discernible from the other links. Smart Tags are disabled by default in Internet Explorer 6.00.2485, the second-most recent build of both IE and Windows XP as of the time of this writing.

In Office XP, Smart Tags are used to allow the user to insert addresses, stock quotes, see where spelling or grammar errors have been corrected, see where formulas have errors, and where objects have been pasted to more quickly and easily correct errors or return items to their previous states. One of the more important features of the Smart Tags in Office XP is the ability for them to work across applications in the Office Suite: if you enter a phone number in Word that is stored in a contact in Outlook, a Smart Tag will appear to allow you to enter any more data you wish. Smart Tags in Office XP are enabled by default, but can either not be installed or disabled.

Bottom line: it does have shady edges, but Smart Tags is just another way to extend applications and the way the web works for people. It isn't required, but may lead some people astray. Though I personally dislike them and think it's a bit like NBCi's "click any word, and get a definition of it!" idea before NBCi went under, I can understand how it will be liked by some and how it will be hated by others.

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