"For the web to move forward and for consumers to get the most out of touch-first browsing, the Metro style browser in Windows 8 is as HTML5-only as possible, and plug-in free," said Dean Hachamovtich, who leads Microsoft's Internet Explorer team. "The experience that plug-ins provide today is not a good match with Metro style browsing and the modern HTML5 web."

I think Steve Jobs said something similar last year.

On-line advertising agencies and web site managers are using sophisticated means to track our on-line habits. Given that a handful of companies control the on-line advertising space, it can be incredibly challenging to protect your privacy while surfing the web. Most of the modern browsers have features that give consumers some level of control over tracking cookies. Normally this involves restricting the use of browser tracking cookies. Users can set the browser to prevent the setting of cookies or delete any cookies when the browser is closed. However, not all cookies are created equal.

Some web site uses Adobe Flash cookies which can not be managed or deleted from the browser settings. Either by design or as a side of effect of being a plug-in Adobe Flash cookies must be managed directly from the Adobe Flash Settings Panel Manager.

To manage the Flash cookies, you must visit the web site from your browser. If you use multiple browsers you will need to do the following steps from each one individually.

First, set your Global Privacy Setting by clicking the first tab in the Adobe Flash Settings Panel Manager. I recommend setting to Always Deny. I'm especially paranoid about cookies I can't delete from my browser. This setting is only effective for web site that you visit from this point on. To change the settings for web sites you've already visited use the Website Privacy Settings panel.

The next tab controls is the Global Storage Settings panel which controls how much storage the cookie will occupy in your browser. Websites use this to store information, such as what products you have purchased. You can also prohibit websites from storing any information at all. That is my preferred setting. This only takes effect for web sites you have not yet visited. To change the setting for sites you've already visited click the Website Storage Settings panel tab.

Some web sites may store information and set the cookies so that other web sites can use that information. In other words, a newspaper may set the cookie with the current title of the article you reading. Perhaps you or your spouse is expecting a child and you are doing research on baby products. The newspaper sets the cookie and then when you visit an online retailer the information is shared with the retailer. Suddenly you are being presented with baby products for sale. This can be helpful but still ... it's a little spooky. You can use the Global Security Settings panel to control this sharing. I set mine to Always Deny.

The Peer-Assisted Networking panel controls how web sites use your bandwidth. This setting is more applicable to gaming sites or site that stream content such as Netflix and Hulu.

On one of my online groups someone started a discussion about Google Books.  I chimed in because I had concerns about Google's normal lack of consumer friendliness and the cloud storage thing.

Why bother with the ugly Google Books store when you can use [Amazon] Kindle which has more device support, a larger catalog and actual customer service?

One of the groups members responded.

Being able to read a book in a browser isn't elegant.  But technically I could read it just about anywhere, on anything that has a browser and I don't need a specialised piece of hardware to do so.  Do you get what I'm saying?

He's correct.  Very few are going to sit and read a novel on the computer. It’s an option that’s not really an option. It’s like trying to promote a car by saying it’s available in pink.

As for the read anywhere options.  Kindle has them all beat.  I don’t use iBooks because the catalog is small. Apple doesn’t have the deals in place. I do have the Nook reader app, the Stanza app, the Borders e-reader app, and the Kindle app for iPad/iPhone. I can read any book from those catalogs and I expect the apps for the Android market can do the same.  I prefer the Kindle solution because of the very large catalog andubiquitous device support — for me that means Macs and iPhones/iPad but Windows and other smart-phones are supported as well. Plus … I can lend my friends/family/coworkers my e-books.

But he did have a point about formats:

The biggest problem with the current trend is that you get locked into a device. Want B&N content? Get a Nook. Amazon? Kindle. Yes, some universal formats (like PDF) work on many devices. But wouldn't it be nice if there was one universal format and everyone made devices for it?

I don’t think consumer care about “open” in the context of hardware devices ( or even understand what that means ) as much as geeks think they do.  For most consumers, ease of use and utility usually trump open. Otherwise both Microsoft and Apple would be niche players and Linux would be the people's choice.  Make it easy and understandable and you’ll get the consumer’s dollar.

However, I think consumers do care about data formats and moving data between applications. They don’t care if the formats are proprietary; they just want to know they can get things to work. “Can it read Word documents?” is often the first question I get when I recommend iWork or OpenOffice as a Microsoft Office alternative. No one asks me whether or not the format has been blessed by a standards committee.

Is there an open e-book format that supports a business model where the publishers and authors can protect their intellectual property? ePub is an open standard book format.  iBooks and other a few other readers supports the ePub format.  But once you put right management systems in place the e-book is back to being locked to a single device — negating the advantages of a single standard format and confusing the consumer.

I don’t think we will see a universal e-reader format anytime soon. The fact is that universal right management does not work well. These systems are usually designed around a single shared master and the device or software vendors all share the risk and the reward of the one key. Once that master is leaked or stolen all the content from every vendor is unprotected for every device. Then new keys have to be generated and distributed to all the vendors simultaneously.  Stolen/leaked master keys is one reason why I have to keep updating the firmware in my Blu-ray player or risk not having newer movies work. Last week my Sony Blu-ray player refused to play Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen until I updated the firmware.

I don’t see that Google has done any innovating with Google Books. I think that all they have done is provide a store that can sell you a version of a book that is compatible with your choice of e-reader. A nook device owner still has to buy the nook version of the book. Basically, Google Books is a more of universal e-book store not a universal standard format e-book store.  I already have an app for that.