March 8th, 2010, 20:28 PM
Microsoft changes EU browser ballot shuffling
Responding to reports last week that its European ballot screen was not truly randomizing the positions of the top five browsers, Microsoft today said it has changed the algorithm that shuffles the spots.
"We can confirm that we made a change to the random icon order algorithm in the browser choice screen for Europe," said Microsoft spokesman Kevin Kutz today. "We are confident the algorithm change will be an improvement."
The browser ballot, which began to show last week in the Windows Update queues of European users, was mandated by an agreement Microsoft reached last year with European Union antitrust regulators. The ballot appears on Windows PCs where Internet Explorer (IE) is set as the default browser, and lets users download and install rivals, including Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari and others.
Last week, Rob Weir, an IBM software architect who had tested the ballot screen's randomization, accused Microsoft of sloppy programming that skewed the results toward Google's Chrome, most often put IE in the fifth spot at the far right, and gave Opera an edge over Firefox for the first position.
Full story: Computerworld