Microsoft May Add 'Porn Mode' to Internet Explorer

REDMOND, Wash. — Microsoft might turn to porn to bolster its flagship Internet browser.

In July, the tech giant filed applications for two trademarks – one for a product that scrubs browser histories, the other for a gizmo that disables the history and cache capabilities of a web browser.

Both of those trademarks point to an intriguing new possibility for the eighth version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer: private browsing.

Internet Explorer remains the dominant web browser mostly due to sheer ubiquity and some widespread user inexperience. Tech commentator Michael Horowitz of CNET News gathered data that indicates that as a computer user gains technical savvy, they become less and less likely to use Internet Explorer.

Where do these tech-savvy users go? To Mozilla, of course, and its popular open-source web browser Firefox. Mozilla unveiled the third version of Firefox in June, and during the first 24 hours of its release, it was downloaded approximately 8.3 million times. The company touted that figure as some kind of world record, although no previous record for most downloads in a 24-hour period had been recorded.

Firefox has been eroding Internet Explorer's market share for years, and although precise numbers aren't available, Firefox has attracted anywhere from one-quarter to more than half of the websurfing public, again, depending on how tech-savvy they are.

Mozilla also backed away from adding private browsing to Firefox 3.0, although the company has conceded its utility for porn-surfing.

“While viewing pornography may be a popular use case due to the nature of content on the web, assuming that this is the only reason that users need private browsing trivializes the overall feature," a representative said. "For instance, users may wish to begin a private browsing session to research a medical condition, or plan a surprise vacation or birthday party for a loved one.”

As of now, only two other browsers offer this porn-friendly browsing feature: Apple's Safari and the industry-centric Heatseek browser.

Users will find out before the end of this month, when Microsoft said they would release the latest beta version of Internet Explorer. Tech blog ZDNet noted that Microsoft said on its own blog there may be more to these new privacy features than a mere history-scrubber.

“The larger challenge here is notifying users clearly about what sites they’re disclosing information to and enabling them to control that disclosure if they choose. As we talk more about privacy, we will broaden the discussion to include additional protections from sharing information that the browser can offer users.”

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