Microsoft ignored tip that it botched browser choice in Windows 7 SP1

May have avoided wrath of EU antitrust regulators if it had paid more attention to a user's question last year on its own support site

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KB976002 refers to the Microsoft support document that explained the browser ballot.

A day later, Afzal Taher, who identified himself as a "Microsoft Support Engineer," replied to RichardD, telling him, "Windows 7 SP1 contains all the previous Windows Updates (which includes browser choice update as well)."

That didn't satisfy RichardD, who had already looked at the list of individual updates rolled into SP1, and had confirmed that the browser choice update was supposed to be in the upgrade.

"I understand that it is included in the service pack, per the documentation. However is it really installed with Service Pack 1?" asked RichardD. "I have a clean Windows 7 RTM, with its region set to France and used Windows Update to install SP1. There is no BrowserChoice.exe in the system32 folder. How can I verify that it is installed with SP1?"

Taher, the Microsoft support engineer, never replied to RichardD's last question.

It's possible that had Taher pushed RichardD's query about the missing browser choice update up the chain of command, or investigated further himself, Microsoft would have realized that it had bungled long before the commission got involved.

Tuesday, Microsoft apologized and characterized the omission of the browser ballot as a "technical error."

"Unfortunately, the engineering team responsible for maintenance of this code did not realize that it needed to update the detection logic for the BCS [browser choice screen] software when Windows 7 SP1 was released last year," the company said in a statement Tuesday. "As a result of this error, new PCs with Windows 7 SP1 did not receive the BCS software as they should have."

In the same statement, the company said it had only learned of the blunder when it was recently told by the commission that others had reported the ballot was not showing up on some PCs.

Microsoft declined to comment on the browser choice-related exchange found on its support site.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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