Microsoft agrees to fix error in Polish browser ballot screen

Microsoft will fix an error on the Polish-language browser ballot screen that inadvertently always lists Internet Explorer first, a company official said Tuesday.

Microsoft introduced the browser ballot screen in order to settle an antitrust case brought against it by the European Commission. Regulators determined the company's bundling of Internet Explorer with the Windows OS was unfair to competitors.

The browser ballot screen has been displayed on computers within the European Union that have Internet Explorer installed by default. The screen allows users to change to one of 11 other browsers, such as Google's Chrome, Firefox, Opera and others. New Windows PCs also have a browser ballot screen.

After further complaints, Microsoft agreed to randomize the order in which those browsers are displayed.

But there's a glitch in its Polish language page, wrote Rob Weir, an ODF (Open Document Format) architect with IBM, who wrote on his personal blog that he was tipped off to a problem.

"The order is unchanging, with Internet Explorer always first, followed always by Firefox, Opera, Chrome and Safari, in that order," Weir wrote. "There is no shuffling going on at all."

Weir wrote that the problem is a "JavaScript error involving a failure to properly escape embedded quotations in one of the browser descriptions. Because of the error, the script aborts and the randomization routine is never called."

Microsoft acknowledged the error.

"We were already aware of the issue, which applies only to the Polish language version of the browser choice screen, and we have the fix scheduled for next week," according to an e-mail statement attributed to Jesse Verstraete, senior E.U. communications manager.

Microsoft had problems last month randomizing the choices and ended up changing the algorithm behind it. Weir had noticed that the randomization code appeared to favor Chrome, with Internet Explorer frequently ending up in the fifth spot.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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