Feeds

Microsoft rejiggers EU browser ballot after complaints

Random choices now random

Boost IT visibility and business value

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.

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?
Sysadmins, you're either fighting fires or seen as incompetents now
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
Intel's Raspberry Pi rival Galileo can now run Windows
Behold the Internet of Things. Wintel Things
Linux Foundation says many Linux admins and engineers are certifiable
Floats exam program to help IT employers lock up talent
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
Eat up Martha! Microsoft slings handwriting recog into OneNote on Android
Freehand input on non-Windows kit for the first time
prev story

Whitepapers

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 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.