More Antitrust Fun -- With Microsoft This Time

Lora Bentley

Earlier Monday I wrote about Google's dispute with Microsoft regarding several antitrust lawsuits brought against the search behemoth by smaller companies. Google says Microsoft must be funding the suits; Microsoft denies the accusation.


Now, though, Microsoft has more of its own issues to address. Remember the browser ballot the company agreed to include with its operating systems in order to get the European Union's Competition Commissioner off its back? Computerworld reports the ballot is not randomly scrambling the order in which the top five browsers are listed.


Because of what IBM's Rob Weir calls a "rookie" mistake, the ballot's scrambler gives Google's Chrome browser the best chance of landing in the preferred first spot more often. According to the story:

"This doesn't randomly shuffle the positions," Weir said. Microsoft failed to use an established random shuffle algorithm -- think of it as the shuffling of a virtual card deck, [said Weir] -- and instead made what he called a "rookie" mistake of sorting an array with a custom-defined comparison function. "I bet if we gave this same problem to 100 freshmen computer science majors, at least one of them would make the same mistake."

Neither Microsoft nor the EU have tested Weir's findings, the story says, but the fix is simple, according to Weir.

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