Coming under further attack, Microsoft has decided to drop the controversial Smart Tags feature from its forthcoming Windows XP release. The feature will not appear in the final version of the operating system, scheduled for release Oct 25, or in the new Web browser Internet Explorer 6.0, a spokeswoman for the company said.
"The decision has been made in response to customer feedback," the spokeswoman said, adding that she could not provide further information.
The software giant has come under increasing fire for the planned feature, which scans keywords in user documents and offers links to related Web sites, many of them operated by Microsoft entities or partners. Critics have accused Microsoft of trying to leverage its dominance in the operating system field to beat competitors in the Internet sphere.
Smart Tags already operate in Office XP, launched in late May, providing, for example, links from company stock symbols to relevant information on Microsoft's MSN MoneyCentral site.
Last week Microsoft officials in Europe said the company would offer only minimal Smart Tags in software sold outside the US.
However, the company’s bad week doesn’t end there. InterTrust Technologies announced Thursday that it has expanded its patent infringement lawsuit against Microsoft, and has asked the court to issue an injunction preventing the release of Windows XP.
InterTrust filed an amended complaint against Microsoft in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, which alleges that the Redmond, Washington-based software company infringed on a US patent issued to InterTrust on Wednesday. InterTrust has also requested an injunction to halt the sale of Microsoft products, including Windows ME and Windows XP, which is scheduled to go on sale later this year.
In the original complaint, filed on April 26, InterTrust alleged that Microsoft's Windows Media Player and other products implement a variety of rights management functions that infringe on a patent issued to InterTrust in February this year. [See "Microsoft sued over digital rights patent," April 27.] Digital rights management technology helps to manage and protect proprietary data such as digital music files.
The amended complaint adds allegations that Microsoft infringes on an InterTrust patent issued on Wednesday. That patent, which InterTrust originally filed for consideration in 1995, includes claims relating to the secure transfer of digital files as permitted by rights management rules, InterTrust said in a statement.
Microsoft officials could not immediately be reached for comment.