Feeds

Microsoft rejiggers EU browser ballot after complaints

Random choices now random

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Microsoft has updated the algorithm used to generate the browser ballot screen it's pushing out to certain Windows users in the European Union, after some complained that the ostensibly random ballot was far from random.

As part of a deal with the European Commission, which was investigating antitrust complaints against the company, Redmond is now asking EU Windows users which browser they'd prefer. The new ballot screen began appearing around March 1, and soon afterwards IBM's Rob Weir - a longtime Microsoft critic - complained that the screen was favoring some browsers over others.

But over the weekend, after some retesting, Weir announced that Microsoft had updated its algorithm and that the screen was producing truly random choices. In a statement tossed to The Reg, Microsoft acknowledges the change.

"We can confirm that we made a change to the random icon order algorithm in the browser choice screen for Europe," reads the canned statement from Kevin Kutz, director of public affairs for Microsoft. "We are confident the algorithm change will be an improvement. As always, we are grateful for the feedback we get from developers, and we thank those who commented on the topic and suggested changes."

The company did not immediately respond to our questions about when exactly the change was rolled out and whether the change was made in response to criticism from the likes of Weir. In his latest blog post, Weir merely says that the change happened sometime last week.

Weir's testing of the original algorithm showed that Chrome was more likely to receive the first spot on the ballot, to the far left, and that Internet Explorer was far more likely to receive the fifth and last spot on the far right.

Microsoft is pushing the ballot screen out to users via Windows Update. It appears on machines where Internet Explorer is the default browser. The EC's investigation was sparked after browser maker Opera complained that Microsoft was unfairly bundling Internet Explorer with its market-dominating desktop operating system. ®

Update

Microsoft has confirmed that the change went out "last week", but did not get more specific.

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

More from The Register

next story
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
DARPA-derived secure microkernel goes open source tomorrow
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
Apple: We'll unleash OS X Yosemite beta on the MASSES on 24 July
Starting today, regular fanbois will be guinea pigs, it tells Reg
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.