EU Microsoft Ballot Nanny state Uncategorized

Damn – did Microsoft or the EU drop a clanger? Part II

I wrote yesterday about the disarrrster that was my mother\’s experience of the EU imposed browser ballot.  Well, I tried it out on a test machines and here are the screens you should expect to see.

Firstly, remember that if you install the patch as you shutdown then this will occur on the next power on without any notice – this could be some time later!

If you install patching and then take the restart now, then on logging on to your computer this windows will appear (click on the images below to see them full size):

The eagle eyed will also spot this new icon on the desktop:

However you will also notice that the browser ballot requires you to be connected to the internet, and the OK button just takes you to the next screens (see below).  My mother\’s experience was that the X to close the windows and ALT-F4 did not work.

All in all, I have to agree – this feels and looks like malware.  A popup insisting you are connected to the internet for the next steps, and has no company name on it is not likely to be taken for a piece of legitimate software – although I would emphasise my suspicions that this is part of the imposition from the EU to prevent \”Microsoft bias\”.

Please pass the message on – for all the IT Pros out there who support their extended friends and family network, I can see this is going to be a serious nuisance.

Enjoy 🙂

EU Microsoft Ballot Nanny state Uncategorized

Damn – did Microsoft or the EU drop a clanger?

Today I got a rather worried email from my mother. The message was titled “virus?”.

Earlier today she had switched on the computer and been confronted by a screen that asked her to choose some software to install. Worried that this might be some sort of malware attack she took immediate action to disconnect from the internet and shutdown the computer. Once isolated she then quite correctly started up and ran AV tests. So she was off the computer and the internet for quite a few hours today.

However, mum used dad’s computer to email me her concerns. Unfortunately as I was at Microsoft Cardinal Place in London where decent phone and data signal is as rare as rocking horse droppings I knew nothing of it until I was on the train home.

It rapidly dawned on me that Microsoft Update had somehow selected mum to be one of the first recipients of KB976002 which is the implementation of the EU directive to provide choice of web browser to consumers. The infamous browser ballot.

I asked her to go to Microsoft Update and check the installed patches, the KB was there:

If you read the knowledgebase article you’ll see that browser ballot loads on the first reboot after installation. In mum’s case it was a shutdown and install updates last night that installed the patch, and then today’s power on activated the ballot form.

I am pretty angry that the implementation of this has been done in such a manner. I suspect that the agreement does not allow Microsoft to inform the consumer what (and why) this is happening and ‘finger’ the EU as the cause behind the interruption of normal service. I would have preferred to have seen something along the lines of:
“In accordance with the agreement reached with the European Union, Microsoft are obliged to offer you a choice of Web Browser. The following options are available for you to choose…” you see what I mean. This would have provided some context and allowed mum to make a more reasoned response to such strange behaviour.

So normal service is resumed, but after a run of good things, I’m a bit narked that we seem to have taken a backwards step with this. And of course – how long before malware uses this to target users?

Rant over…

Oh, and if you are wondering – then yes XP is the right solution for mum and dad. They’ve had their machines since before Vista, and I strongly urged them not to upgrade because I was not satisfied it would be a good experience for them. Windows 7 I certainly recommend, but a wipe and install upgrade is not the right approach either. When they get a new machine(s), then yes, I will whole heartedly support Windows 7 on it!