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Internet

Glitch pulled from MS site

After revamping its home page for Internet Explorer 4.0, Microsoft pulls the personalization feature because of a bug on the site.

After revamping its home page for Internet Explorer 4.0 users with dynamic HTML and a personalization and customization feature to help promote its products, Microsoft (MSFT) has pulled the personalization because of a glitch.

The feature provides links to the company's other Web sites based on user profiles. Pieter Knook, general manager of the popular corporate site, said the glitch involved the code on the Web site, not a software problem. He expected it to be resolved in the next day or two.

Some users complained about the buggy feature, The rest of the features are working fine, Knook added.

"We have put up a different home page for Internet Explorer users," he said yesterday. "One of the things we're able to do is personalize the experience. You tell us about you, and we'll help you navigate to the right place."

Knook announced the changes on the site this week. The site also is featuring news headlines grouped by topics; MSNBC figures prominently. As for customization, the company contends that 2 million people already have chosen to "tell us about themselves." It says more customization features will be added soon. Those features will be offered to users of other IE "incarnations" within a month.

Personalization is an increasingly popular feature on Web sites. CNN, for example, recently struck a deal with Oracle to provide customized news content on its site.

In Microsoft's case, users were directed to sites operated by the company, site builder pages, or personal computing sites, for example.

A downside to any customization site is user concerns that privacy will be compromised.

Knook asserted that would not be a problem. "You skeptics out there are thinking, 'Yeah, right.' You're probably going to use all this information to stuff my email box with spam," his letter on the site says. "Absolutely not."

The company says it won't ask questions about age, gender, or income. "We won't send you anything unless you ask," the letter adds. If you do, however, you might get marketing information on Microsoft products.