Microsoft testing cookie control

Microsoft Corp. on Thursday announced a beta version of its new Internet

Explorer Version 5.5 browser that will let users know when and what kind

of cookies are being received by their computers.

Microsoft's new upgrade will track first- and third-party cookies. Users

will be notified with alerts when cookies arrive and will be able to manage

and delete them. Microsoft received consumer feedback expressing confusion

over cookies, prompting the company to update the browser, the company said

in a statement.

The new browser function is a positive move to provide users with more

control over the information they give out about themselves, said Richard

Smith, an Internet security consultant based in Brookline, Mass., who has

discovered security holes in Microsoft software in the past.

"What this is going to do is prevent the tracking (of users),"he said.

Cookies are small bits of information that can be placed onto the hard

drive of a World Wide Web site visitor. They often are used to track a user's

Web surfing habits. Third-party advertisers also often place cookies to

better target consumers based on their online profiles.

The update will first be beta tested by consumers, corporate users and

industry partners. Following their feedback, Microsoft said it plans to

release a public beta within four weeks.

Microsoft's browser competitor, Netscape Communications Corp., put cookie

controls in its latest browser, Netscape 6.0.

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