Microsoft Drops Smart Tags Under Criticism

Microsoft Drops Smart Tags Under CriticismThey're already in Office XP, but won't be included in Windows XP.Rick Perera, IDG News Service

Microsoft has decided to drop the controversial Smart Tags feature from its forthcoming Windows XP release. The feature will not appear in the final version of the new operating system.

Windows XP is scheduled for release October 25. Smart tags will also be struck from the new Web browser Internet Explorer 6.0, a company representative says.

"The decision has been made in response to customer feedback," says a Microsoft spokesperson. She says she cannot provide further information.

Antitrust Rumblings

The software giant has come under increasing fire for the planned feature, which scans keywords in user documents and offers links to related Web sites, many of them operated by Microsoft entities or partners. Critics have accused Microsoft of trying to leverage its dominance in the operating system field to beat competitors in the Internet sphere.

Smart Tags already operate in Office XP, launched in late May. They provide, for example, links from company stock symbols to relevant information on Microsoft's MSN MoneyCentral site.

Last week Microsoft officials in Europe said the company would offer only minimal Smart Tags in software sold outside the United States.

InterTrust Files Complaint

In a related action, InterTrust Technologies has expanded an existing patent infringement lawsuit against Microsoft, asking the court for an injunction preventing the release of Windows XP.

InterTrust filed its amended complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The company says Microsoft infringed on a U.S. patent issued to InterTrust. Its original complaint says Microsoft's Windows Media Player and other products implement a variety of rights-management functions that infringe on a patent that InterTrust got in February. Digital-rights-management technology helps to manage and protect proprietary data such as digital music files.

Sumner Lemon of the IDG News Service contributed to this report.

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