Web cookies are nuggets of data that a site stores in your browser and then nibbles on whenever it needs to eat a chunk of your soul. They are not like real cookies with chocolate chips and incur the wrath of privacy advocates and regulators. They are a leftover from the old desktop only Internet and kind of irrelevant to our Internet of things. Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook are among those that want to replace them.
With proprietary technology that will allow them to hook you across their devices and sites. of course. So, they won't be cute cookies any more, but Microsoft munchies, Facebook feces, and Google grips. Where are The Sex Pistols when you need them.
According to sources within Microsoft, the company wants to find its own tracking mechanism through Windows and across everything from PCs to Xboxes. And, despite the privacy concerns, cookies have one failing in their existing incarnation: they don't do much for mobile, television or video, in general. Doesn't stop everyone from still using them and trying to choke you on ads, but cookies have go to go.
Microsoft's cookie replacement would essentially be a device identifier, meaning consumers could give permission for its advertising use when opting in to a device's regular user agreement or terms of service. Microsoft would then become directly responsible for users' data and -- assuming it doesn't share it with third parties -- confine privacy concerns to the Redmond, Wash.-based company rather than countless companies that currently collect data on people's browsing behaviors.
By contrast, the cookie is a technology that isn't owned by one company and allowed a standard means of tracking web browsers that allowed a huge third-party ad ecosystem to bloom. Replacing it with proprietary technologies would consolidate power with Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and others with large opt-in audiences.
The Internet Advertising Bureau set up a committee in 2012 to address the future of the cookie, but right now, it doesn't know what Microsoft is up to.
The likelihood is that the big boys will position their own alternatives to cookies to create a marker for their ambitions within the IAB, and then, at the behest of advertisers, agree on the replacement to cookies which they can tweak for their own platforms.