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Today Microsoft announced that it will no longer turn on its “Do Not Track” setting by default for Windows users.

The decision comes more than two years after Microsoft first turned on Do Not Track (by default) in Internet Explorer 10, a move that enraged advertisers but won over some privacy advocates.

In a blog post on the matter, Microsoft says it made the decision to comply with the latest World Wide Web Consortium (WC3) standards, which state that users must be in charge of setting their own tracking preferences. Here’s the WC3 excerpt Microsoft quoted on its blog:

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.

Microsoft promises, however, to make it easy for Windows users to turn the feature on. “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,” Microsoft said.


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DNT will not be turned on by default in “future versions of our browsers,” the company said. This is a reference to Project Spartan, Microsoft’s new browser shipping on all Windows 10 devices (smartphones, tablets, PCs, and so on), which does not yet have a final name.

Windows 10 is slated to arrive this summer, and it will include Project Spartan as well as Internet Explorer 11. Spartan will be the default browser, however, and IE11 will only be available for legacy purposes.

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