Category: Internet Explorer

Can’t cut off their air-supply this time…

Aw, doesn't look harmless?

Aw, doesn't look harmless? Big bad Google hurting his itty-bitty software company...

Microsoft accuses Google of unfair business practices – yes you read that right.

“In a blog post entitled ‘Competition Authorities and Search,’ Microsoft Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Dave Heiner said part of the motivation for Microsoft and Yahoo’s search deal was ‘we are concerned about Google business practices that tend to lock in publishers and advertisers and make it harder for Microsoft to gain search volume,'”

And here’s the killer line:

“according to court documents, Ballmer pledged to ‘f***ing kill Google’ after learning of Google’s plan to hire a key Microsoft engineer in 2005.”

Poor Microsoft are upset that Google isn’t just rolling over and letting them dominate search, just like every other company has let them take over their business-niche before them.

Maybe Microsoft are angry because:

a) they can’t ‘cut off their air supply‘ like they did with Netscape in order to create an abusive monopoly in the internet browser business

b) they can’t blatantly steal code from Google, like they did with Apple’s Quicktime, in order to have a product that got even close to what Apple had

Still, while Microsoft and Google are at loggerheads, it keeps them occupied whilst everyone’s favourite fruit company can stroll past them.

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More innovation from Microsoft…

Cockroach

Amongst Microsoft’s many, many accomplishments, is this lovely little gem:

Rixstep: There is no patch.

There are bugs that Microsoft patch pretty quickly, there are bugs that take a little more testing and take longer, there are bugs that they take ages to patch for some reason.

And now, from your trustworthy business OS supplier comes a first in long history of innovation – a bug that cannot be patched.

At all.

It can’t be fixed.

Why this isn’t more widely reported is beyond me. Microsoft’s solution is to run IE8 in a restricted mode which seems a band-aid solution to me.

Sure, Vista solves this little hiccup, but just about every Windows box that I can see from my happy little Mac studio, is still running XP.

What galls me the most is that this little feature has been present in every version of Windows up until Vista, they’ve only just discovered it as far as I can tell.

A few years from now, will there be another ‘unpatchable’ flaw in Vista, Windows 7, 8, 9 etc that they discover?

Why do people not question them? Why do they just accept this? Why is the news full of Apple releasing another device that everyone fails to understand, because it just happens to do something different, and not full of Microsoft’s unbelievable, amateurish and downright dangerous coding?

No other web browser on the Windows platform is affected. Does that not say something about this company?

Microsoft’s subtle trick…

The Devil

I remember a Christian once saying to me that the best day’s work that the Devil ever did, was to convince everyone that he didn’t exist.

A similar analogy, is that the socialists have convinced everyone that George Orwell’s book ‘1984’ was about fascism, when actually it’s about the dangers of unrestricted socialism (IngSoc, stands for Engligh Socialism).

These thoughts were piqued when I read a newspaper article in the UK’s DailyMail newspaper, outlining the experience the reporter had when they accidentally clicked on a spammer’s email.

The chaos that ensued, highlighted the dangers of clicking on these sorts of emails, and the article well worth a skim:

Courtesy of the UK’s DailyMail newspaper:

I always like to read articles like this because they show the computer experiences of your average Windows user; and I mean the really average Windows user.

The average Windows user makes up the majority of Microsoft customer base, and this article perfectly illustrates the clever trick that Microsoft has played upon them.

The article in question is basically about someone who received an email that asked for all sorts of personal information. This email was a spam email, but the user dumbly accepted it as legitimate, and duly got conned – malware was installed and all sorts of chaos ensued.

Now you can comment on the ineptness of the user, but this article isn’t about their stupidity, it’s about the person that they ultimately blamed.

It’s a big, long article that goes into great detail about what happened to them, but nowhere and I mean nowhere in the article is the word ‘Windows’ or the word ‘Microsoft’ mentioned. Not once.

Ultimately the person who they blamed was – Yahoo. They blamed the email service for failing to filter out the email.

Not themselves for being so inept, not Microsoft for selling them an OS with security holes, but Yahoo. Poor Yahoo.

From the article:

Finally on Monday, three days later, smooth-sounding Jessica from ‘the Yahoo concierge service’ called to help me get back into my account and reassure me that Yahoo took such violations very seriously.
She would not be drawn on who might be responsible at Yahoo for stopping hackers. I wanted to know why Yahoo’s own filter system hadn’t spotted a bogus email sent in their name and taken it out before I opened it.

And here lies the biggest trick that Microsoft has made – they’ve made themselves invisible.

They’ve subtly altered people’s perception of computing so that they are blameless.
They’ve convinced the average Windows user that security holes are a way of life, and it’s not their fault, but it’s the fault of:
  1. You for not constantly being on your guard to make up for the fact that an email link can allow remote software to be installed.
  2. The ‘bad guys’ who send out these emails and take advantage of the security holes in Microsoft software
  3. The email provider for not filtering out the ‘bad guy’s’ emails.
All this is very depressing, but even more depressing are the 30 or so comments to this article from more ‘average Windows users’.
They all comment on the dangers of email, how they had spam before, and how they ultimately accept it as a way of computing life.
To add insult to injury, a drone from Sophos gives 3 golden rules for online safety – not one of them states to give up Microsoft software and choose Linux or Apple.
I’m fully aware that phishing emails are a malware-vehicle that could be used on these platforms as well, but the security hole that this email exploited was for Windows – as most, if not all of them are.

Safari 4 beta

button-download-icon-20090217

Apple surprised everyone recently by announcing Safari 4.0. It’s released as a beta, put don’t let that put you off, it’s every bit as stable as the previous version.

Opinion is divided on some of the new features, with some people hating the fact that the tabs have moved to the top (as Chrome), the ‘Top Sites’ feature not being particularly useful, and the intrusion of ‘Cover Flow’ into bookmark & history browsing.

Other people love these features, but I think it’s a mixed bag. The feature that wowed me first was the ‘Top Sites’ feature, however this enthusiasm has faded as I realised I cannot seem to find it useful. Time will tell.

The feature that I hated at first was the ‘Cover Flow’ intrusion. I don’t like Cover Flow, I don’t use it in the OS, or iTunes, however it seemed to make more sense in Safari, because it’s better than what it replaces, and I’m warming to it.

The traditional way, by earching your history by looking at hundreds of similar named bits of text, is not user-friendly at all, however quickly skimming through thumbnails of those pages is much more intuitive.

Thurrott is having a bad time in finding anything to like in Safari 4 beta. This isn’t surprising, but he seems to blow lukewarm to cold on Apple, depending on whether he needs to up his site visits. I’m purposefully not linking to his article.

Everyone seems not to mention the speed. The stats seem incredible, and although they seem to be true and not exaggerated, (they have been independently tested and confirmed), the average surfer won’t see much difference.

The question for me remains, is why are Apple introducing more (albeit useful) eye-candy into Safari? It’s a browser, and shouldn’t it be lean, fast & mean?

It comes down to pushing the hardware. I do most of my personal surfing on a little iBook G4 and it’s beginning to show the strain. Apple need to keep selling their hardware, so they keep pushing the specs, to make you upgrade.

I’ve held off, because, like most I can’t afford to upgrade my hardware every time Apple releases new Mac’s.

I put it off for as long as possible, and I’m planning to purchase a MacBook when Snow Leopard is released.

It seems that Apple are heading towards Snow Leopard as the pinnacle of what they can achieve, after they threw away OS9 all those years ago.

Snow Leopard seems to be everything that Steve Jobs has been aiming for – a lean, mean OS, with no legacy code. A good foundation to build upon.

I predict that after Snow Leopard has been released, together with the hardware that’s designed to take full advantage of it, Steve Jobs will announce his retirement, with the knowledge that his job is done.

However it will be sad when SJ retires. To most new Mac users he has significant, but not irreplaceable influence.

When he does go, I’m sure that Apple will carry on, and be better off in the long run, but the Apple that I have grown up with (since System 6) – my Apple – will never be the same again.

Safari is all part of this, and it’s apparent that Apple are slowly putting the pieces together to make the Mac best tech-experience, bar none.

A tale of 2 internets…

Tale of 2 Cities Illustration

Recently a direct mail flyer from Staples dropped through my letterbox. Now usually, these kind of things end up in the bin after a brief flick through, but something this time caught my eye.

As part of my job I produce a large amount of direct mail, so I always feel obliged to flick through any direct mail I receive because I understand how much hard work goes into creating these things. Not just in terms of design, but the logistics of making sure that stock is available roughly when the direct mail is likely to hit a doorstep is an art in itself.

Anyway, the thing that caught my eye in this instance was an all-in-one printer from HP. I don’t remember the model, however it was for sale for the very reasonable price of £49.99.

That seemed a great price to me, so I did a little research on the model, to find out what kind of compatibility it had with the Mac. After a little searching on-line I regrettably found out that it was a dog. HP’s driver’s were either flaky or non existent, and the printer itself wasn’t particularly good quality.

However, upon looking around I realised what good value all-in-one printers were, so I convinced myself I needed one (I don’t have a printer at home, I usually do any personal printing at work), and looked around for a decently priced printer with good Mac support.

I quickly discovered that the best printer’s came from Brother, and after a quick search online I found a discounted Brother DCP-115C on PC World’s website for £45.17 (online price only).

So, credit card in hand I decided I would purchase it, and here’s where my troubles started.

After placing the printer in my virtual basket I proceeded to the virtual checkout. Before I could pay (thank goodness in retrospect) they needed to locate at which branch this product was located, and if it was near, you could go and pick it up yourself.

Except it didn’t work. The part of the page that gave you the locations of the nearest PC World remained blank.

So I tried Firefox – this was a little better, it actually displayed the locations, but on clicking proceed, the website declared I hadn’t made a choice, and wouldn’t let me proceed.

So I tried Camino – a similar result to Safari.

So I tried Internet Explorer – even worse, it actually crashed the browser.

So I sent an email directly to their complaints department and gave up. I assume this will be picked up by PC World complaints, passed onto the Windows-based webmaster, he or she will simply smile and throw the request in the bin, along with all the others.

But I still wanted a printer, so undeterred, I tried various other online stores and none of them had the printer I wanted at the right price.

In desparation I tried Amazon. I’ve used Amazon before and been amazed at their Mac-support. Their website works flawlessly, and in this case that had the exact printer I wanted. A few clicks later it’s bought and I’m now waiting for delivery.

Guess I’ll be using them in future and to let them know how pleased I am with their service, I sent them an email thanking them for their Mac-support.

But (there’s always a but isn’t there?) my story doesn’t end there.

I’m still awaiting delivery. It’s not late, but Amazon have sent me an email and a link to track the order, so I decided to find out where it was.

At the moment it’s in the hands of Parcel Force UK, so armed with a reference number I visited their website to find out where my package is.

And guess what? Their site doesn’t work with Mac’s. There’s no indication that it doesn’t work, but when you get to the part of the site that displays the information you want, it’s just not there.

I’ve gone through the same steps as I used with PC World’s website, with the same results, including the email complaint, which I assume again will make it through to the Windows-biased webmaster who will silently guffaw to himself and throw the request in the bin.

It’s hard to say what part of all this makes me more angry. If the website simply did a browser check at the start of the process and informed me that this site didn’t work with Mac’s, I wouldn’t have a problem (much). I wouldn’t waste my time with it and move on.

But the problem here (and this seems to be more and more common), is that they don’t announce this at all. They simply let you click through their site, until you get to the part that doesn’t work, and you curse and curse that you’ve wasted your time – again.

Maybe they realise this, they just want to piss Mac users off as much as possible.
All this hassle, and I haven’t even installed the software to run the printer yet. Let’s hope this goes smoothly.

My main concern here is switchers. They are used to going to any online store and (viruses notwithstanding), having no problems in buying online. With the Mac it’s a nightmare and they are all too quickly going to regret their purchase.

It could just be my bad luck I suppose (I do bank online with no problems), but their has to be a solution here.

Virtualization springs to mind. It wouldn’t help me as I have an iBook, but couldn’t Wine (and open-source virtualization tool that emulates the Windows API, so you can run Windows apps without running Windows) help in this situation?

I don’t mean running a version of Internet Explore for Windows on your Intel Mac, what about a plug-in for Safari, that (using Wine), emulates the parts of Internet Explorer that are needed so that we have 100%, transparent compatibility with our Windows friends (I say friends through gritted teeth).

Maybe then Mac users won’t be classed as second-class citizens on the net, and we can end the 2-tiered internet experience.