Default is “On” for Pending IE Pop-up Blocker

Default pop-up blocking is on again in Microsoft’s latest edit to its Windows XP Service Pack 2.

The company has released an edited beta version of its upcoming Windows update, scheduled for wide release this summer, in which long-planned pop-up blocking features will automatically be turned on in Internet Explorer. If implemented, many marketers believe the default setting could deliver a killing blow to pop-up advertising.

The move reverses Microsoft’s earlier decision to turn the feature off by default. In December 2003, the company released its first beta version of the service pack update. That release included the much-anticipated blocking feature, but users of the Web browser had to change their settings in order for it to take effect.

As most users historically don’t edit their default settings, conventional wisdom suggested the decision not to block by default meant the units would continue to be a viable format for advertisers, though the available inventory would be lower.

At the time, a Microsoft spokesperson said the beta would be subject to user feedback, and that changes to the update are always possible. That possibility now appears to have become a reality.

Meanwhile, a number of online marketers and publishers have suggested they’ll be prepared to part with the units if and when the time comes.

Additionally, the service pack update takes into account the interests of users who wish to receive pop-ups from trusted sites, and it will not affect intranet-issued pop-ups.

“If users decide to view a blocked pop-up ad, they can simply click on the pop-up blocking menu in the status bar to view the pop-up once or add the Web site to the ‘safe sites’ list. For businesses, this protection will not affect existing intranet sites and line-of-business applications, because pop-ups are not blocked in the local intranet zone,” said a fact sheet issued by Microsoft.

Microsoft first indicated it would include pop-up blocking features in November. editor Ryan Naraine contributed to this report.

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