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Why Google will put ads on its home page

Posted date: 12-Feb-2009

I have only just managed to get my severe involuntary chuckling fits under control.

They began on August 14th, when I read these words from Google's Eric Schmidt, in response to a question from CNBC's somewhat-comatose Jim Kramer as to whether the company would consider placing ads on its home page: "People wouldn't like it. We prioritize the end user over the advertiser."

And I prioritize the ketchup over the fries. I eat it raw and unsullied, guzzling it straight from the bottle, as if it were cabernet.

I'm astonished that anyone would have even the smallest flicker or twitter of doubt that, one day, Google will slap ads from the highest bidder on its home page.

I can remember The Times, the one further east of New York, often declaring that it would always be a broadsheet newspaper. Anything else, the editors would mutter (Brits always mutter, right?), would be like passing wind in the Queen's presence.

Now it is published in tabloid (or, if you prefer the posh word, compact) form. Indeed, The Times has similar dimensions to The Sun, the paper that made its name with half-dressed girls on its third page. And as for advertising, well, this week's front pages seem to have heavily featured, in type far larger than the news headlines, the words "Save 70 pounds."

What makes Mr. Schmidt's declaration so gigglifying is that if he asked just five of the users of, say, YouTube, at least four of them would tell him that they would rather eat their own socks, dirty ones at that, than have ads besmirching their three minutes of pleasure.

Has YouTube's owner prioritized the YouTube user over the advertiser? As much as Russia has prioritized world peace over its need to poke someone in the cornea.

In the interests of thoroughness (a Kafkaesque cry for sanity, more likely), I did a little more googling and discovered that the company is intending to experiment with display ads on, what do you know, its search pages.

I am entirely confident that searchers, who already admire how Google has made text ads look like search results, will experience the same delightful levels of uplift when they witness Google's prestidigitation with display ads.

I'm not entirely sure why people are so fussed about Google's home page, anyway. Does anyone go there any more? Don't they just use that little search box thingy, placed conveniently top right of their browser?

The company made a delightful gesture for Earth Day, when it faded its home page to black. Might it not consider doing the same for other great causes? You know, going blue for the Democratic Convention, red for the Republican Convention, and green against global warming.

Of course, it could always go green for its third-quarter results, too.

IE 8 to include private browsing feature

Posted date: 12-Feb-2009

As CNET News first reported last week, Internet Explorer 8 will include a way to surf somewhat anonymously, allowing the user to suspend browsing history, cookies, and other identifying information. Mozilla had considered such a feature for its Firefox 3 release, but dropped it for technical reasons. Apple Safari also includes a similar feature.

Known as InPrivate, Microsoft is touting the feature as one of several security enhancements within its next major browser release. The scenarios for using InPrivate include when you're using someone else's computer, when you need to buy a gift for a loved one without ruining the surprise, or when you're at an Internet kiosk and don't want the next person to know which Web site you visited. While you can currently clear the browser cache with a mouse click, it's an all-or-nothing action. InPrivate temporarily suspends the automatic caching functions, allowing you to keep the rest of your browsing history intact.

ZDNet columnist Mary Jo Foley calls InPrivate IE's "porn mode."

The IE development team at Microsoft has more details about InPrivate here. They've even produced a video.

InPrivate will be available in IE8 Beta 2, which is expected to be released sometime before the end of the month. Final release for the browser remains scheduled for November.

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