Feeds

Microsoft rejiggers EU browser ballot after complaints

Random choices now random

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Preview redux: Microsoft ships new Windows 10 build with 7,000 changes
Latest bleeding-edge bits borrow Action Center from Windows Phone
Google opens Inbox – email for people too thick to handle email
Print this article out and give it to someone tech-y if you get stuck
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Google+ goes TITSUP. But WHO knew? How long? Anyone ... Hello ...
Wobbly Gmail, Contacts, Calendar on the other hand ...
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
Redmond top man Satya Nadella: 'Microsoft LOVES Linux'
Open-source 'love' fairly runneth over at cloud event
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
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.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.