In a controversial move Microsoft is considering buying adware developer Claria, formerly known as Gator.
US newspapers report that Microsoft may buy the company after an approach from the adware specialist, whose products enable on-line advertisers to target internet users by recording their web activity.
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The deal may founder, however, as Microsoft has already expressed concern about how the purchase would be viewed by the public.
The acquisition could be seen to fly in the face of Microsoft’s talk about developing products to counter spyware. Claria’s solutions could also be used by Microsoft’s MSN portal to generate better targeted advertising.
Claria changed its name from Gator in 2003. Its web browser toolbar, for instance, has been used on peer-to-peer networks, with users agreeing to the pop-up ads it generates on their desktops in return for getting free access to music and video clips.