Microsoft v. Google: the sleeping giant awakens

It looks like the new version of IE8 may threaten Google's main business:  targeted search ads:

Microsoft has unveiled its Internet Explorer 8 browser equipped with a privacy feature that could threaten the advertising model of web search rivals such as Google.

Users of the browser can opt to access websites in private, hiding their personal details from search engines that use the information to target advertising at individuals.

However, Microsoft points to examples of buying birthday presents or searching for medical ailments as areas where InPrivate was also of benefit to customers.

John Curran, a director at Microsoft UK, said: "Some people will always want to be 'In­Private', but there is a trade-off."

Google has faced an outcry over the amount of information it collects from users of its services. David Mitchell, an information technology analyst at Ovum, said: "If the hype around privacy gains more credibility, more people will hit the private button. There is a potential threat here to click-through [display] advertising."

I think we may be sure that Microsoft was less concerned with the tender feelings of porn consumers (and/or their spouses) and more concerned with striking a blow at Google.

But this has broader applications than Google.  Media companies are still trying to figure out how to make web advertising lucrative enough to support a full, print-style application--Politico is a rousing success, and yet makes 60% of its revenue from a cheat sheet it prints for a paltry few tens of thousands of readers.  We don't need a new web browser making things even harder than they already are.