Firefox Extension Could Wreck MSN AdCenter

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A dedicated development community has helped the Firefox web browser gain market share; the ability to enhance its usefulness with third-party extensions could be disastrous for Microsoft’s pending debut of AdCenter.

Firefox has managed to climb into the double-digits in market share of web browser users. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer owns the overwhelming majority of the market, and the Mozilla Foundation, Firefox’s home, has done well to gain some of IE’s users.

Users can tweak Firefox’s appearance with different themes, and provide extra functionality through the use of extensions. The third-most popular based on the number of downloads has been Adblock. That extension has consistently rated high with users since its inception.

Adblock works as a filter. If an element in the web page meets the filter’s criteria, as set by the user, the element does not appear on the page. Launching AdBlock from its link at the bottom of the Firefox window shows the various elements that can be selectively blocked.

Once selected, that element will not be rendered in Firefox during future usage. Where it gets scary for Microsoft, as well as Yahoo’s Overture and other networks, is another extension that works with Adblock. Called Adblock Filterset.G Updater, the extension adds a list of filters to Adblock and updates them as new ones become available from the developer.

Installing the filterset along with Adblock means ads from Overture and certain MSN Shopping links never appear in the browser. By default, Google ads are not filtered; users can easily add *googlesyndication* manually as a regular expression to Adblock.

Greater popularity for Adblock, especially since a respected Google engineer recommends the extension, could cause problems for Microsoft and potential advertising partner AOL. Having a few hundred thousand tech-savvy users installing Adblock and keeping MSN’s AdCenter out of view (and Yahoo’s), while allowing Google ads through, poses an interesting problem for Microsoft.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Firefox Extension Could Wreck MSN AdCenter
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