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Microsoft and Google target alternative to web-tracking 'cookies'

Why doesn't anyone want any (web) cookies? Microsoft is reportedly the latest Internet giant to explore an alternative to the omnipresent tracking tool, something Google might also be exploring.

As reported by AdAge, Microsoft is developing its own technology for tracking across all Windows devices, the Xbox console, and the Bing search engine.

"Microsoft believes going beyond the cookie is important," a Microsoft spokeswoman said in a statement. "Our priority will be to find ways to do this that respect the interests of consumers. We have nothing further to share."

Cookies are little bits of data collected about your Internet activity. They can be useful — like remembering passwords and settings on sites that you surf to frequently.

But as more and more of our lives are carried out online, there are concerns about targeted advertising and how much data is really collected.

On the business side, meanwhile, AdAge noted that cookies do not track mobile devices or TV- and web-based video services, so they miss a whole chunk of Internet activity.

Details of Microsoft's cookie-replacing tech are still be hashed out, AdAge said. But the Redmond-based firm would control the data it hands over to advertisers, which sounds similar to a plan Google is pursuing.

According to a September report from USA Today, the Google-developed option - known as AdID - would replace cookies with a system that requires ad networks to adhere to specific guidelines in order to get their hands on Chrome data. Google has not made any announcements regarding this yet.

Apple blocks third-party cookies by default on the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Macs. Ironically, Google recently got into hot water amidst accusations that it and three other ad networks side stepped Safari's privacy settings to track usage on iPhones and Macs without permission.

Ultimately, Google reached a $22.5 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over the issue.