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Microsoft won't enable 'Do Not Track' as the default for 'Project Spartan'

Microsoft will no longer have "Do No Track" as the default setting for its future web browsers, including "Project Spartan". The company says it is making this change in order to avoid conflicting with the latest "Do Not Track" standard as created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

Here is the language of the standard from the W3C:

"Key to that notion of expression is that the signal sent MUST reflect the user's preference, not the choice of some vendor, institution, site, or network-imposed mechanism outside the user's control; this applies equally to both the general preference and exceptions. The basic principle is that a tracking preference expression is only transmitted when it reflects a deliberate choice by the user. In the absence of user choice, there is no tracking preference expressed."

In today's announcement, Microsoft said:

"Put simply, we are updating our approach to DNT to eliminate any misunderstanding about whether our chosen implementation will comply with the W3C standard. Without this change, websites that receive a DNT signal from the new browsers could argue that it doesn't reflect the users' preference, and therefore, choose not to honor it."

Microsoft enabled "Do Not Track" as the default for Internet Explorer 10 in 2012 and it was enabled again for IE11. The decision was praised by privacy groups but was heavily criticized by online advertising companies. Microsoft said today that even though "Do Not Track" will no longer be set as the default for its future browsers, they will provide clear information about how to turn that feature on for users. It added:

This change will apply when customers set up a new PC for the first time, as well as when they upgrade from a previous version of Windows or Internet Explorer. We said in 2012 that browser vendors should clearly communicate to consumers whether the DNT signal is turned off or on, and make it easy for them to change the setting. We did that for IE 10 and IE 11. And we're continuing to do so with future versions of our browsers.

Source: Microsoft (opens in new tab)

56 Comments
  • Hmm
  • Google won
  • They just have to implement a mini tutorial asking if we want DNT enabled or not when we start using Spartan... Simple
  • I think they'll choose not to waste their time on that
  • Agreed.
  • Why are these kind of laws so important? Its so trivial. You want DNT, enable it. Otherwise don't. Now whether the vendor enables it or not, who cares?
  • It's not a law, it's a voluntary standard. Advertisers were ignoring it because "users didn't choose it, so they may have wanted us to track them".
  • And now they'll ignore it still, but just come up with a new reason.
  • That's funny cause its true.
  • Like what?? I don't recall anything i use being free because of advertising
  • Google/Bing/Yahoo. Outlook/Gmail. Most large scale websites...including this one.
  • I only use Bing. And as I paid for Windows 8/8.1 and Vista and 7 and bought three Windows Phones.... And I paid for this Windows Central app.... I would think Outlook would be an inclusion to all those devices and software / services. Some erectile dysfunction banner ad had little to do with it.
  • Windows and Outlook are two different things my friend.
    Google's services often earn through ads
  • @Praxius1: I want to live in the world you live, where it doesn't cost money to run services.
  • Wut?
  • This webpage is free because of advertising!
  • Uh... windowscentral.com?! Pretty much all websites you don't pay for have to be funded somehow - typically advertising, or some commission-per-lead for the price comparison sites. Retail sites need no explanation.
  • This has nothing to do with whether or not you see ads. This has to do with your searches and browsing habits being tracked so they can target specific ads at you. All of that same information can be tracked by scammers so they can target phishing attacks at you.
  • W3C is a standard for housing the web, and in this case, Microsoft made the correct decision to uphold that standard. They didn't used to do this back in the IE 6-8 days and instead, made their own ways of doing things, including HTML, CSS, etc. Good to see Microsoft opening up. :)
  • Well, we have to make sure that the people that can't think for themselves are being thought for smartly. /s  Browser makers really should make it easy for users to determine if they are being tracked or not and make it easy to change as well.  Using todays browsers, I know if I am getting accurate advertisements taylored to me or one of my recent seraches. 
  • I'm more annoyed at being bombarded after I've bought what I was looking for.  Spent a week looking for a lawnmower.  Bought one.  Two weeks later, all my ads are still lawnmowers.
  • Couldn't agree more. I did find out useful once. My ex cheated on me and booked a hotel room. That same hotel's ads kept popping up on almost every website. She asked me how did I know where she was, smh.
  • Clear instructions? I suppose some may need that, but the first thing I do with all browsers is check the settings. In Spartan, I flicked DNT on right away.
  • I thought this was never on by default for the same reasons mentioned. I wonder if they'll still keep TPL lists.
  • I would assume, with the rumored extension support, that adblock extensions will replace the TPLs. Those TPLs never worked for me anyways.
  • Those TPLs always worked for me. I don't know how they wouldn't work for anyone.
  • It should be a part of a set up process when installing browser/ using first time.
  • That's what I was thinking. Just ask the user the first time it's used if they want it enabled.
  • Are they supporting tracking protection lists in Spartan? Or will that have to be done through an extension?
  • Neither at the moment.
  • Oh god this needs to be there. Otherwise I'm only using IE11
  • So whose big pockets pushed the W3C standard to disable DNT by default? Another opt in/opt out decision made to benefit companies to the possible detriment of customers. Seems a "no preference" should be the default (which would likely result in the same behavior as tracking) to at least give the veil of privacy.
  • Since DNT was enabled by default, advertisers were ignoring the requests. So now you have the option, and its STILL getting ignored. This seems like a much better option.
  • The much better option is to have the government fine the holy sh*t out of any company that ignores the request. $1000 per infraction.
  • Call me cynical but I have a bad feeling advertisers are going to ignore the dnt request anyway. It's in their best interest to let Microsoft keep the option disabled by default so that they can continue to use this excuse. So Microsoft makes this change. How long will it take all the different advertisers out there to accept Microsoft's change and start respecting users browser dnt choice? My guess is a very long time or an other excuse will be used.
  • Exactly. There's no telling if those ad companies will now suddenly start respecting DNT requests
  • The action by MS may eventually benefit customers, sure, but the standard by W3C does not.
  • DNT doesn't really do anything anyway for tracking companies that doesn't listen. It simply tells them that you don't want to be tracked, whether they track you or not is still up to them.
  • Even though Do not track turn on in spartan, it don't work at all.  
  • So the want to track us in Spartan now? Come on guys you have to support privacy in ALL ways you should know that by now. Don't see why IE is getting renamed in the 1st place.
  • No, advertisers want to make sure its your choice to not be tracked. You can still turn it on.
  • Actually the DNT may do the exact opposite. It will tell the other party a human is there, same way when you click the unsubscribe link in spam emails.
  • waiting for next TP of Windows 10...should be out by 6th April
  • So: unless you wear a t-shirt with text saying "Please don't stalk me and molest me", it is implied you are ok to be stalked and molested. Thanks W3C. I get your logic finally.
  • Lol. Your comments always crack me up :D
  • The "Standard" is "Surveillance ON". Only in the US will this fly. The civilized world defaults to "No Surveillance" even if Google and Verizon don't like it. MS should know better, and treaty it's customers better. For the average User, these sort of options tend to be obscure and they just accept defaults. Microsoft should be ashamed of itself. How long do you think it will take before the EU forced them to e walk this one back amidst a boatload of bad publicity. Might as well be Chrome.
  • Why not just rename it "Track Me" and keep everything else the same? Honor the check box and let's move on. Unless I'm on trial, it is no one else's place to determine my intent.
  • Owel
  • Just put a question for the user everytime they open the browser to turn on the do not track unless the user had it turned on or the user dont want to see the message again
  • Yeah, it's the W3C's fault, not Microsoft. Microsoft is closing a loophole that many advertisers are using to track you even with do not track enabled.  What Microsoft should do is, on first run of the browser, open a pop-up explaining what "Do Not Track" is, and require the user to select enable or disable before continuing. User choice made, problem solved, and everyone gets the opportunity to make their voice heard, without being burdened and without "not knowing" how to fix it.   
  • DNT is worthless. You as the person that's tracking has to decide that the end user has the right to not be tracked. You have to actually look at this flag. Then you have to choose to not track them after it reads true. DNT is BS and doesn't work also I think if it did making it the default should be acceptable since few people would want to volunteer.
  • Easiest way is a pop up dialog on 1st run to ask Y/N to DNT, as rhapdog has said above. Simple.
  • I sense i won't install win10. I sense somebody told me the truth, is free, but with a high price i won't pay.
  • hmm, ok w3c. you argued about user expresions being deliberate, good. now go and fucking argue with corporations who dont make it clear enough for users what that feature does and where they can express their deliberate choice. then also go and fucking kill the websites who still dont comply and respect the users choice. i hate half-assed standards. plus they usually are half assed against users not against companies, corporations etc
  • As a website owner things like do not track actually rob a lot of small and great sites of important revenue streams. So its good to see it being turned off by default :)
  • I love that