Pop-up advertisements have thrived for years despite numerous efforts to eradicate them, but now online marketers are seriously wondering whether the Web's most detested ad format is about to meet its match: Microsoft.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant recently indicated that it will add pop-up blocking features to Internet Explorer (IE) next year, as part of an update for Windows XP. Others have offered similar tools before, but because IE so thoroughly dominates the browser market, ad executives and Internet watchers believe the changes could finally burst the bubble for pop-ups.

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