Four and a half years ago I offered Bill Gates a
billion dollar idea --
but unfortunately Bill wasn't a regular Aardvark reader at that stage so
it's taken him a bit of time to catch on.
the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook
are revealed for all to see!
However, he's obviously been browsing through the back-issues and appears
to have started extending his Net-takeover with one small step that is
perhaps a precursor to future intent.
It seems that the latest versions of IE now refuse to display some pages
from websites -- preferring instead to substitute their own, Microsoft-produced
pages promoting services such as MSN.
Yes, reports indicate that Microsoft feels it's okay to hijack users from your
website and feed them its own content -- without your permission! So how long
before it also starts hijacking whole domains as I suggested back in February
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Exactly when does Microsoft's browser decide to usurp your pages with
When those pages are presented as the result of an error, such as that
oft-seen favourite "404 page not found."
Big deal right? Who cares? If there's no page to be found, why shouldn't
Microsoft display its own page with the option of using the MSN search engine?
Simple -- it has no right to!
If my (or your) webserver returns an error 404 (or any other error) then the
browser should report that fact -- but nothing more unless the site concerned
agrees. Microsoft won't send web-surfers to my site for free so why should it
expect my site to provide it with free traffic?
Having already implemented this "thin end of the wedge," what's to stop Microsoft
from leasing out space on these error pages -- perhaps to deliver targeted
Of course you could argue that if your website is so poorly designed that it
has 404 errors then you deserve to lose visitors to a competitor -- but what
if it's a "Server Busy" message caused by too many users trying to access your
wonderful information? Is it fair to give Microsoft full control over the
ultimate destination those people arrive at after entering your domain name?
Likewise -- what happens when your nameserver(s) fail? Entering www.yourdomain.com
could see a web-surfer arriving at a Microsoft page promoting or suggesting a visit
Would it be fair or ethical that whenever an IE user encountered any kind of
error on your website they were immediately shown a big bold advertisement
for one of your competitors?
That's not too dissimilar to a competitor ambushing the delivery of your
monthly customer newsletter and inserting their own brochure!
Given this latest move on the part of Microsoft -- I'm actually starting to
regret that I published that column all those years ago. You can bet that
if I thought of it, so has Bill -- and implementation can't be that far away!
The Latest In The ING Saga
A big thanks to all those who have emailed me to express solidarity in respect
to my comments on ING and their mailshot.
Just to give you an idea of how much money they stood to make from this little
exercise -- Domainz has announced that they registered their 100,000th domain
name in August. Imagine if just 1 in 20 of those domain name holders
were confused enough by the ING offer to part with their NZ$300. That's
$1.5m worth of cash flowing their way!
It might be time to send out a search-party for ING's process-server too. I've
seen no sign of their alleged law suit -- good thing I wasn't holding my
Save The Aardvark Fund
Yes, I have had several donations to the Aardvark fund and I thank those
who put their money where their mouse is :-)
If guilt is gnawing away inside you then there's still time to donate.
Just drop by and
hand over your loot.
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