Microsoft had planned to give Internet Explorer 8.0 the most advanced privacy settings in the industry, until executives swept in and made the browser more advertiser-friendly. Explorer was supposed to keep out all kinds of common tracking tools, but Microsoft opted instead to turn the feature off as a default, pushing it onto a privacy controls menu most users aren’t aware exists, the Wall Street Journal reports.
“We were worried it was going to cause a stampede” away from tracking technologies, says Brian McAndrews, the Microsoft VP who stepped in. Of the Internet’s top 50 websites, 31 install Microsoft tracking cookies on users’ computers. Microsoft was also worried that increased privacy would cost it the support of ad-industry groups it wanted to rally against a Google/Yahoo ad deal. Eventually, it decided to allow the feature only if users had to activate it each time they started the browser.