Feeds

Microsoft rejiggers EU browser ballot after complaints

Random choices now random

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

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.

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
Windows 8.1, which you probably haven't upgraded to yet, ALREADY OBSOLETE
Pre-Update versions of new Windows version will no longer support patches
IRS boss on XP migration: 'Classic fix the airplane while you're flying it attempt'
Plus: Condoleezza Rice at Dropbox 'maybe she can find ... weapons of mass destruction'
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.