New Internet Explorer To Add Links

SEATTLE — The newest version of Microsoft Corp.’s Internet Explorer browser will be able to direct Web page readers to other sites without the permission — or even the knowledge — of the page’s owner.

The feature, dubbed “Smart Tags,” will be included in Microsoft’s new operating system, Windows XP, which will be released Oct. 25. Currently, Web site owners have complete control over whether to link words or phrases to other Web pages. With this system, Microsoft will have some of that power, although Web site owners will be able to disable the mechanism if they choose. Initially, Microsoft will use Smart Tags to direct users to company names, sports teams, colleges and universities, lead product manager Greg Sullivan said.

The company name links, to be available for all companies with a ticker symbol, will guide users to Microsoft’s MSN site, which provides information about companies listed on the stock exchange, Sullivan said. Analysts said the technology could still hurt Web sites trying to keep users on their site. “It is threatening, if you’re a company that’s running a Web site, that maybe content can end up redirecting someone to something else,” said Chris Le Tocq, an analyst with Guernsey Research.

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