Was IE9 worth the wait?

I can understand the pragmatism of this decision, but it still grates. We need to move over to 64-bit across the board, and we’ll only have a strong 64-bit experience if people push the platform hard in a fully 64-bit way.

Was IE9 worth the wait?

I accept that there are few web pages that require 2GB of RAM, but if the reality is that 64-bit IE9 is to be left as the runt of the litter, then Microsoft shouldn’t install it by default.

Make it an optional download or installer, and make it clear that it isn’t as good/fast/optimised/tested as the 32-bit version. Call it a developer 64-bit pre-release version of IE9 or whatever, but sticking it on every 64-bit machine and then hiding it away just irritates me enormously.

Privacy issues

I’d quite like IE9 to offer the InPrivate browsing facility as a default option.

With InPrivate you can set the browser so that it records nothing about your browsing session: no history, no cache of files, no record of clicks, no cookies and so forth. You can’t make this the default mode (at least, not from the browser UI), which is rather disappointing.

I’ll have to have a poke around the Group Policy tools to see if I can force it from there. You might wonder why I’d like this mode turned on by default? Well, I have a particular hatred of the way some sites insist on tracking what I’m doing, and an even bigger hatred of the way that advertising engines use cookies to target me.

Using InPrivate browsing mode as the default would automatically ensure that this doesn’t happen, but Microsoft won’t allow it.

That takes me onto the subject of Tracking Protection Lists (TPLs), a new technology in IE9 that allows you to control the way that third-party websites track what you’re doing.

If you go to Contoso.com and look at some items, it might be that advertising.com links are embedded within the Contoso.com website, and advertising.com stores cookies on your machine logging what you were browsing.

If all this sounds like a desperate attempt to justify a borderline-immoral business model, then you could possibly be right

Now move over to happyclappy.com, which is an entirely different site, but also uses advertising.com advert management – those advertising.com links from happyclappy.com can see what you’ve been looking at while on other sites that use its engine, and so can present you with targeted suggestions and adverts.

Naturally, the advertising industry thinks this is a really cool, whizzo feature that’s a benefit to all of us (but especially the advertising industry, because a targeted advert can attract a higher click-through price than an anonymous item).

Advertising people really want this sort of behavioural analysis to work in their favour, and naturally claim that it’s for our good too, because we’ll no longer be bothered by pesky adverts that aren’t relevant to our areas of interest. What’s more, we won’t see the same advert several times over, because they “know” what we’ve seen already.

Desperate justification?

If all this sounds like a desperate attempt to justify a borderline-immoral business model, then you could possibly be right. The problem here is that no user has been asked whether they want to sign up for this sort of tracking – it just happens whether you want it or not – hence the big interest in expelling these cookies and wresting back control from the advertising industry.

TPLs are a way of doing just that, so at first glance they’re clearly a good thing, but dear reader you’d be quite correct if you guessed that there’s a big “however” lurking around the corner.

To explain this downside, let’s look at how TPLs work. Each one is a simple text file, which you can view and edit using any text editor you like. A TPL is usually hosted on a web server, and the page it’s referenced from will usually have a button that fires off some JavaScript to install and activate the TPL into your E9 installation.

Within the TPL is an instruction that says where the TPL came from and how long it’s valid for, and when this times out, IE9 automatically goes and retrieves an updated copy.

Now, on to the body of the TPL. You might expect that a TPL is basically an exclusion list of third-party domain names that should be blocked whenever you visit a primary site.

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