I've been mostly posting (bitching) about political stuff here, so I guess this will be a change of scenery...
I just installed the new Google Toolbar (I dunno, is it really new? I'm usually pretty far behind the technology curve these days, despite being in a technical field) Anyway, being notified when a pop-up is blocked has sort of highlighted something that I had noticed, but hadn't given much thought to because it wasn't always obvious when the pop-ups were being generated or who was serving the pop-ups. Could the browsers be themselves generating pop-ups?
Here's my simple test. Bring up two innocuous pages and see what happens. I bring up Netscape (specifically 4.72 -- Hey, I'm running on a Sun-PCI card in my Ultra-60 at work here) and go to Excite and then manually go to Yahoo and then back again. No big. Netscape brings up the pages and that's pretty much it.
I do the same thing in IE (Version 6.0.2800.1106) and the toolbar tells me that it blocked a pop-up on the way to Yahoo and half the time, it'll block a pop-up pulling up a page from Excite.
Evil empire? You make the call.
[UPDATE] Ok, July has suggested that it's probably some hook in IE that just doesn't work or exist in other browsers. And since everybody and their technically savvy grandmother will target their code to IE, it's gonna be IE that gets that many more pop-ups. So I guess the call is "not evil" in this instance. Kinda like you can't blame them entirely for having the lion's share of viruses, worms and other on-line nasties. If someone wants to attack the system, they hit the application that is being used by the largest segment of the population... So sometimes it isn't so great to be the king.
Although you have to admit, they're still doing pretty well with that world domination thing.