Google sinking faster than Internet Explorer

The technology press continue to amuse me, long have they spouted the myth about the death of Internet Explorer. They always tout the gradual erosion in the usage share of Internet Explorer, a few years ago we'd see articles every month about how usage share has declined.

Today Internet Explorer remains healthy with 56.77% (according to Net Applications). Over the last year it had four months of growth, but overall is down 4.81%. Coincidently the tech press' old darling Firefox lost 2.47% share during the same period, losing 11% of its users, compared to Internet Explorer that only lost 8% of its users.

But how is Google, the darling of the technology press doing in its core business of search?

Using the same logic that the press apply to Internet Explorer, Google Search is far beyond a sinking ship, its a shipwreck that's on fire and is about to explode.

Google have dropped from 74.5% marketshare last year to 65% this year (According to Compete). Google managed to shed 9.5% share to its main rival Bing. With numbers like that more than 12% of Google's users in the last year have moved over to Bing.

That's double the marketshare that Internet Explorer lost in the same period.

Yet we don't hear a peep about this.

Of course Internet Explorer isn't really a sinking ship, Internet Explorer 8 was the fastest growing browser ever, and version 9 not only offers fantastic HTML5 support, it is also the fastest browser on the planet. Nor is Google Search a shipwreck on fire about to explode, I actually use it for most of my complicated search queries, because it handles them better than Bing, which is better at more mainstream stuff.

The point of this post has simply been to highlight the hypocrisy in the technology press. They can't call Internet Explorer a disaster, and cite losing 5% marketshare without calling Google Search an even bigger disaster.

Controlling how IE9 renders pages

With Internet Explorer 9 Microsoft have made some changes to how it renders which end-users may find noticable. Previously in Internet Explorer 7 and 8 it didn't matter, nor was detectable to an end-user if IE was rendering a page in quirks mode or in standards mode.

Internet Explorer 9 however has removed the 2 pixel border that previously versions of Internet Explorer had.

IE9 rendering a page as IE8IE9 rendering a page in standards mode

On the left IE9 is rendering a page as IE8 would. As such the border is included to maintain compatibility. However on the right we can see IE9 rendering a page by default, with no border.

Web developers can control how Internet Explorer renders a page using the Doctype and also the X-UA-Compatible tag.

The Doctype is probably the most common way. No DocType, Internet Explorer will render a page as IE6 would, dubbed quirks mode. This will result in the 2 pixel border around your website.

Using a Doctype such as the new HTML5 one <!DOCTYPE html>, or one of the XHTML or HTML ones should work fine.

Alternatively you can also use the X-UA-Compatible tag in the page's header. This has the added advantage of removing the compatibility button. If you're confident a webpage will be correctly displayed to a visitor, why pollute thier screen with an option that isn't needed.

You can use <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=9" /> to remove the button. IE7, 8 and 9 will all render the page as close to standards as they can. However if IE10 was released, it would switch to compatibility mode for IE9. You can get around this by specifying "edge" instead of a version number.

11 year old racks up 1000 on Xbox Live - bad parenting

The press seem to be on a roll with anti-Xbox Live stories as of late. A few weeks ago it was the kid caught cheating with a modified profile, and as a result had his gamerscore reset and his zone changed to "cheater". His mum complained and demanded his achievements back and the "cheater" removed from his gamer tile, after Microsoft refused she went to the press. In the end we found out the kid had cheated, despite his mum protesting his innocence. The kid cheated, end of story.

Well this week we've got something a bit different now the Daily Mail are featuring a story about an 11 year old boy spending 1000 on the Xbox Live Marketplace.

Right off the bat I would like to quote the Xbox Live Terms and Conditions:

The Service is not intended for use by children under 13, except together with a parent or other adult supervision

With that out of the way...

A desperate mother has condemned Microsoft after her 11-year-old son racked up a 1,000 debt on her debit card - through his Xbox. Brendan Jordan racked up a bill of 1,082.52 on his Xbox without realising all the purchases were being charged to his mum Dawn Matthews' card.

Oh dear.

She entered her debit card details into the family Xbox to pay for Brendan's subscription to his favourite game. However, Brendan repeatedly clicked on additions and extensions - racking up a 1082.52 debt to her account over six months.

Oh so in other words, you let your kid spend the money. And now you want it back? Tough you got the stuff you paid for, as it clearly states "there are no refunds for this item". NO REFUNDS.

Microsoft make it perfectly clear what's going on, they'll show two or three screens when you're buying Microsoft Points, making it clear this will debit your account, it mentions the amount and the fact it'll take it from a credit card. Your 11 year old kid is taking you for a ride if you think he didn't know what was going on.

It is ridiculous to allow someone of his age to make payments without any checks being done.

You're quite right and the fact of the matter is Microsoft do check.

When you would have set up your son's account it would have asked for an age. Under 18 and he'd get a child account. With all the parental controls anybody would need, and by default would prevent any purchases from the Xbox Live Marketplace.

So either they lied about his age when setting up his account, or the mother enabled purchases on her son's account.

In addition to that it took six months before his mother realised he was spending all this money. Surely she would have noticed the dozens if not hundreds of MICROSOFT *XBOX LIVE transactions on her statement? Or you know check their e-mail where receipts would be sent? Apparently not.

Stop trying to blame others for your own bad parenting.

Subscribing to an RSS feed in Internet Explorer 9

With Microsoft about to unveil the release candidate of Internet Explorer 9, I thought I should take some time to cover probably the only regression that will impact a lot of people. Before I start, I'd like to make myself clear that this regression is worth the massive improvements that Internet Explorer 9 brings across the board.

As you may have guessed from the title, it surrounds subscribing to RSS feeds. With the new slimmed down, and to the point IE, the RSS subscription button is no longer displayed by default. It's hidden in the optional command bar.

In many cases this isn't a problem, click on a link to the RSS feed on a webpage and Internet Explorer will open it in feed view, where you can easily subscribe to it anyway.

The problem comes from websites that don't actually give you a link to their RSS feeds on the page. Typically they would expect you to click on a web browsers feed button to view it, with it no longer displayed in IE9, that may be a tad annoying.

The other problem comes from websites that use services like Feedburner, when they detect a web browser, rather than a feed client display it in a "friendly" view, which makes IE9, and other browsers think it is actually a website, and hence does not enable feed view mode.

There are two quick and simple workarounds for this.

The fastest in my opinion is to hit ALT to open the traditional style menu, click Tools and make your way down to Feed discovery, accessing any feed listed there will display it in feed mode.

Subscribing to an RSS feed in Internet Explorer 9

Alternatively you can turn on the command bar, which can be done by right-clicking on an empty area of IE9's user interface, an empty area next to a tab for example, and choosing Command bar from the menu. That'll turn the command bar, with the Home, Feed, Print, Page, Tools options that IE has had for the last two versions.

Subscribing to an RSS feed in Internet Explorer 9

Removing the manufacturer's login screen from Windows 7

Over the last couple of months several people who rely on my computer savvy to clean their computers out of bloatware have purchased new computers, one from Dell and another from Acer.

Both of these computers have their own login backgrounds supplied by the computer manufacturer. As well as the regular desktop wallpapers - but they're easy enough to change yourself. Changing the login screen back to how Microsoft intended it to be is slightly more challenging.

You'll need to use the registry editor to change it back. To do this you'll need to be logged into an administrator's account.

Click Start

  • Type regedit into Start Search and press enter and elevate the application
  • You'll want to make your way to the following key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Authentication\LogonUI\Background

  • From there, you should be able to see an entry called OEMBackground
  • Double-click it, and in the window that pops up change the 1 to a 0 (zero)
  • Press OK, and reboot your computer

After following those steps the computer should display the default login screen.

For those not comfortable with editing the system registry, download the registry file here, and run it. When prompted accept the request to merge with your computer's registry.

Windows Phone 7 sales FUD

Over the last few days much has been made in the technology press about "disappointing" sales figures for Windows Phone 7. What exactly is this based on considering there are no official sales figures and is it true or not?

Back on the US launch (no figures for Europe yet, where Windows Mobile is traditionally much stronger), an anonymous source was quoted by dozens of technology websites as saying Windows Phone 7 sold 40,000 units on day one. To date nobody knows who this source is.

Is 40,000 units a bad figure for a brand new platform with low awareness? Not really. Although we don't have any figures to directly compare with the first Android phone, the G1, T-Mobile did announce they had sold a million in the first 6 months. On average that's a little over 5500 units sold per day.

Of course for Google the technology press spin everything in a more positive light, the stories when the G1 came out weren't about disappointing sales figures. No they just made figures up saying it had 1.5 million pre-orders. Obviously out by several orders of magnitude, at least.

Microsoft isn't given the same luxury. A few days ago figures of Windows Phone being outsold 15 to 1 by Android in the UK swept around; this has been covered on pretty much every technology news website. Where are these figures from?

Katherine Noyes, a known Linux fanboy, someone who said Android has almost made the iPhone a "niche also-ran", writing for PC World say they're from a UK retailer. Well I'm from the UK maybe I've heard of them, someone like Expansys or Amazon or maybe o2 or Orange, or maybe even the Carphone Warehouse? Nope from someone called Mobiles Please. Err never heard of them, in all my years buying smartphones I have never heard of these people.

Worse yet they're not even a mobile retailer, they're just a website that links to deals from other retailers. I'd call them a comparison website. Except Alexa has never heard of them, neither has Compete. When my blog gets more traffic than a so-called "UK retailer" you should be worried, especially worried when tech websites with millions of readers use them as a basis for a story about how Windows Phone 7 is a failure.

Of course I have to congratulate Mobiles Please for all the free advertising they got, from nowhere to being mentioned on dozens of the biggest technology websites. All they needed was a crappy anti-Microsoft press release.

Windows Phone 7 is undoubtedly doing better than the handset makers predicted, Orange are still having to dish out 20 vouchers to make up for the fact its taking them a while to get phones into people's hands. It's also certainly doing much better than Android was in its first couple of months, just looking at the daily active Facebook users coming from Windows Phone can tell you that, and that's a very conservative estimate for total sales. Without a doubt Windows Phone 7 will get to the million mark faster than Android.

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