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03.09.10

Microsoft Loses Impact in the Web Despite Unfair Ballot Placements

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 5:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ballot

Summary: The “rigged” ballot with “mere IE shells” is not enough to defend the Web browser which broke the Web

THE deliberate incompatibility with web standards — an incompatibility which Microsoft has encouraged over the years [PDF] — still takes its toll.

Mary Jo Foley says that, according to Microsoft, “more than 2,000 major Web sites still not fully compatible with IE 8″

The bad news: More than 2,000 highly-trafficked Web sites are still not compatible with Internet Explorer 8 and require IE’s Compatibility View support to display properly. The good news: That is down from about 3,100 sites a year ago.

As expected, the ‘Microsoft press’ spins it and so do Microsoft Nick. They only speak about the half of the glass that’s full. As we noted earlier this month, IE 6 expires and there is a “funeral” taking place shortly afterwards. To name some coverage:

Microsoft sends flowers to Internet Explorer 6 funeral

Microsoft sends flowers, card for Internet Explorer 6 funeral

Web wags stage IE 6 funeral

Microsoft marks death of IE6 with flowers

IE6 Laid To Rest. Pictures, Videos, And Flowers From Microsoft.

Microsoft sends flowers to Internet Explorer 6 funeral

Microsoft wants people to move to IE 8, thus the statements mentioned at the top. Rob Weir, who previously showed that Microsoft’s browser ballot was rigged (either intentionally or not [1, 2, 3]), has more to say on the subject:

First, I’d like to thanks those who commented on that post, or sent me notes, offering additional analysis. I think we nailed this one. Within a few days of my report Microsoft updated their Javascript on the browserchoice.eu website, fixing the error. But more on that in a minute.

[...]

In the end I don’t think it is reasonable to expect every programmer to be memorize the Fisher-Yates algorithm. These things belong in our standard libraries. But what I would expect every programmer to know is:

1. That the problem here is one that requires a “random shuffle”. If you don’t know what it is called, then it will be difficult to lookup the known approaches. So this is partially a vocabulary problem. We, as programmers, have a shared vocabulary which we use to describe data structures and algorithms; binary searches, priorities heaps, tries, and dozens of other concepts. I don’t blame anyone for not memorizing algorithms, but I would expect a programmer to know what types of algorithms apply to their work.
2. How to research which algorithm to use in a specific context, including where to find reliable information, and how to evaluate the classic trade-offs of time and space.
3. That where randomized outputs are needed, that this should be statistically tested. I would not expect the average programmer to know how to do a chi-square test, or even to know what one is. But I would expect a mature programmer to know either find this out or seek help.

It remains a fact that several browser choices are still “mere IE shells”.

Some Browsers In Microsoft Ballot Are Mere IE Shells Says Expert

After a complaint was filed with the European Commission by Opera Software company, Microsoft was forced to present its European users of Internet Explorer web browser with a ballot box that allows them a chance to replace IE with Firefox, Opera, Safari or any other browser on the list.

Using the Microsoft-sponsored Net Applications, which Microsoft boosters very much love pointing to, it is shown that Internet Explorer keeps losing market share.

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10 Comments

  1. dyfet said,

    March 9, 2010 at 7:50 am

    Gravatar

    It’s of course called ballot stuffing.

    your_friend Reply:

    Stuffed badly too. I think this is the text that Roy should have quoted:

    According to the web developer, there are 12 browsers available for download, of which five browsers run on Microsoft’s Trident rendering engine, two use WebKit technology, three are based on Mozilla’s Gecko rendering system and only one uses Opera’s Presto.

    I had been surprised by the apparent number of browser choices in the ballot screen shots. So half the “choices” are really IE shells.

    Another problem is that there’s minimal information on the page. It would be nice to know, for example, that more than one browser could be installed or that some browsers have a right click open in another browser option.

    In the end, there’s no real choices with Windows and that’s what the problem with non free software will always be. Non free software always keeps users in the dark, helpless and divided.

    dyfet Reply:

    The reason of course is to try and dilute firefox market share specifically and standards compliant rendering market share in general.

  2. Needs Sunlight said,

    March 9, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Gravatar

    The “ballot” is irrelevant and pointless. The original problem from that court case goes unaddressed: the fact that M$ still illegally ties MSIE to its desktop OEM monopoly.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Yes, it’s an OS choice problem, not just browser choice.

    Needs Sunlight Reply:

    That’s a second issue, OS choice.

    The browser choice is the problem. Not a single one of the choices on the “ballot” allow Windows without MSIE. Here are the choices for the punters:

    MSIE alone
    MSIE + Firefox
    MSIE + Opera
    MSIE + Chromium
    and so on.

    Notice that not a single option on the “ballot” doesn’t include MSIE?

    The original remedy was for M$ to remove MSIE from Windows and have it separate. The case was about illegal tying or bundling. As it stands, M$ is allowed to continue the illegal, anti-competitive behavior.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    They should have concentrated on OEMs. The FSF urged for this.

  3. Robotron 2084 said,

    March 9, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    Gravatar

    This just goes to show there is no pleasing some people. If you hate Microsoft there is no legitimate voting system except a single option to nuke the system and install Linux. Period.

    This is one case where I wish Microsoft had just told the EU to go screw themselves and stop wasting everyone’s time for an issue that even when it was relevant 15 years ago still isn’t that important in the overall scheme of things.

    your_friend Reply:

    That’s not a bad idea, Robotron, but I have a few that are better. The US DOJ should enforce US laws against Microsoft’s blatant anti-competitive behavior against OEMs, OEMs and retailers, against educational charities, education, free encyclopedias and journalists. Forcing OEMs to offer real OS choices is one of the least expensive and most effective fixes available and this would deliver much needed revenue to free software competitors. To insure the price of Windows matches it’s real market cost, a just remedy would be sure to pass on a portion of all Windows sales to non profit organizations like the FSF. These remedies would have been more effective if they had been applied when Microsoft had more money but it is never too late to do what’s right.

    Your behavior, Robotron is something you may regret later.

    Robotron 2084 Reply:

    Hmm, why would I regret arguing with extremists? Well, I’m sure lefty could answer that question for me. Still, if you think you can take it that far, give me your best shot.

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