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Mar
08
2013

Microsoft gets 561 million euro fine for missing browser ballot “oversight”

In 2009, an antitrust agreement in Europe ruled that Microsoft weren’t playing fair with internet browsers. By including Internet Explorer into Windows by default; making their own software prefer to use it over alternative browsers; and not providing an easy mechanism to get alternative browsers, the European Union (EU) decided that Microsoft was abusing its widespread use on European computers to favour its own internet browser. As a result, Microsoft were fined $1.44 billion US Dollars; but that’s not all. They also agreed that for five years, Microsoft would have to offer a Browser Choice screen to European users of Windows, providing a choice of the five major browsers and a reasonable amount of other alternatives, so that EU customers could choose how THEY wanted to access the internet; and if they wanted to choose other than Internet Explorer, could find out more about or quickly download any of the alternatives.

Browser Ballot Screen

An example of the “Browser Ballot” screen Microsoft implemented to provide European customers the required choice of browser.

For a long time, Microsoft honoured this promise. But when Windows 7 SP1 was released over a year ago, a series of complaints – now known to have included reports from Google and Opera – were submitted to the EU claiming the ballot was no longer being shown. After discovering it had been gone for 16 months, Microsoft claimed the problem to be a “technical error” and restored it – but according to the EU, this resulted in 15 million Windows users not seeing the ballot box and instead defaulting to Internet Explorer, which broke the agreement.

Today, the EU fined Microsoft for breaching the agreement, ordering them to pay 561 million Euros (approximately $732 million US Dollars, or £487.7 million British pounds) for the “mistake” – which may not sound like a lot for a multi-billion-dollar company, but actually accounts for 3% of Microsoft’s profits for the entire 2012. Microsoft, for its part, has claimed it will not appeal the fine and takes all responsibility, offering this quote:

“We take full responsibility for the technical error that caused this problem and have apologized for it. We provided the Commission with a complete and candid assessment of the situation, and we have taken steps to strengthen our software development and other processes to help avoid this mistake – or anything similar – in the future.”

This has got to be one of the more expensive “technical errors” in recent tech world history.

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    Previous Articles


    Apr
    14
    2011

    Google native code browser plug-in gets tickled

    This story was originally posted by Cade Metz in San Francisco for The Register; and originally appeared on http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/04/14/tcl_on_native_client/. Full attribution rights have been given to the original author.

    The Tcl scripting language has been plugged into Google’s Native Client, allowing Tcl code to run inside the Google Chrome browser in much the same way that JavaScript does.

    Using Native Client – a Google-created plug-in for securely running native code inside the browser – Tcl now has direct access to the Chrome DOM. “The net effect for the Tcl developer is that now he can read and write to the DOM, and be notified of GUI or network events, just like any JavaScript programmer,” developer Alexandre Ferrieux tells The Register. “And like for JavaScript, this happens on the client side, which is a game-changer for us Tclers, who are accustomed to being trapped on the server side. [You get] interactive speed regardless of the connectivity.”

    Ferrieux, the man who moved the language to Native Client, provides a demonstration of Tcl directly accessing the HTML5 canvas element.

    Some have claimed that this is the first scripting language running on Native Client, but other languages have made the move as well, including OCaml and Lua. But this is the first language that fits so nicely with Google’s wonderfully geeky naming conventions. Some have called this NaTcl. From sodium chloride to, well, sodium tetrachloride.

    In February, Google released the first official version of the Native Client SDK. Native Client is designed to speed the performance of web applications, allowing apps coded in, say, C or C++ to be securely transferred over the web and executed inside the browser. The idea is to work around the speed limitations of JavaScript.

    “While the [Chrome] team has made JavaScript tremendously faster over the last two years, there’s a lot of applications out there that have existing audiences that are [written in native code, such as C and C++], and there are a few that are specialized applications that need every last bit of performance the hardware can offer,” Google engineering director Linus Upson told us in December. “Native Client is a way of addressing both those issues.”

    At one point, Google built a Native Client compiler for Go, its New Age programming language that provides extreme concurrency while running at speeds similar to C. But Go co-creator Rob Pike tells us that the Native Client Go work is now on hold, due to the rapid changes the Native Client team were making to the plug-in.

    Originally developed in the late ’80s at the University of California Berkeley as the Tool Command Language, Tcl is essentially a scrubbed and enhanced Unix shell. “It dwells in the same area as Lisp and Scheme, in that it has an extremely simple and regular syntax, with next to zero reserved keywords, very few special characters, and a very simple semantics based on a never-violated principle: ‘Everything Is a String’,” Ferrieux says. “That allows humans to reason about programs with certainty without any knowledge of the implementation details.”

    Now that Tcl – pronounced “tickle” – is up and running on Native Client, Ferrieux intends to move the accompanying Tk graphical user interface tool kit to the platform as well. “Another important thing from the standpoint of a Tcler with a Tk background, is that thanks to the exquisite flexibility of the language, there’s very little more to learn [to make the switch to Native Client],” he says. “Indeed, the complete emulation of Tk’s most useful idioms at a syntactic level is possible, and will be completed shortly.”

    Well, you do have to learn your HTML5.

    Apr
    13
    2011

    The Browser Cache – an overview

    Table of Contents
    Page 1
    Page 2
    Page 3
    Internet Caches: What they are and how they work (You are on this page)
    The Advantages and Disadvantages of Caches
    How to clear your Internet Cache

    Have you ever come across something you’ve never seen or used before, and decided to keep it somewhere close to you so that, if you need it later, you know where to find it and can therefore get it quicker? In technology speak, all the things you put away like this are collectively called your “Cache” (ka-shay); and each time you put something new away like this, it’s known as “caching” it.

    Computers work in a similar way. Some programs – and built-in functions of your computer – will save data your computer hasn’t seen before to your computer, so that next time you use the program, it can load the existing data, eliminating the need to create it again, thus speeding up the process.

    A long time ago, Microsoft saw fit to bring this whole Cache paradigm to the Internet (whether they invented it or not is a point of debate, but certainly their version set the standard), introducing to its browser a function that downloaded things it hadn’t seen before, so that the next time you visited a website it would load quicker. Other browsers followed suit, and for many years now a cache has been a standard part of any half-decent internet browser. While Microsoft refer to files saved in this way as “Temporary Internet Files”, most other browsers simply call it the “Browser Cache”. Read the rest of this entry »

    Pages:  1   2   3 
    Oct
    14
    2010

    Opera Mobile coming to Android within a month – forget Mini, this is full-flavoured

    Forget Opera Mini – Opera has announced it is working to bring its full-flavoured mobile browser to the Android platform some time very soon indeed. To tempt people on board, the new software will support hardware acceleration for buttering up frame rates while you zoom around at potato-scalding speeds, while pinch-to-zoom will also be implemented in both Opera Mini and the new Opera Mobile, giving Opera Android browsers the feature for the first time. Opera Mobile proper is expected to make its début on the Android Market at some point over the next month. Opera also say they expect the program to be able to support all Android versions, so those still stuck on outdated Android 1.5 or 2.0 platforms will also be able to benefit.

    Digiprove sealThis informative article has been Digiproved © 2010
    Sep
    19
    2010

    IE9 beta: Power-packed, but not for everyone

    For most people, surfing the internet has become synonymous with clicking on the ‘e’ icon on their computers to launch Internet Explorer (IE). And while it is by far the most popular browser in the world, of late, IE had seen increasing threat from others such as Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Opera that claim to be faster, have more features, and more secure. Microsoft’s answer to all these criticisms has been to unveil a new version of the browser: Internet Explorer 9 (IE9). Read the rest of this entry »

    Digiprove sealThis informative article has been Digiproved © 2010