Wow, could I be about to say something nice about Internet Explorer...?!
Well, yes and no. For the first time in a long time Microsoft's IE team is to be applauded after this week announcing it has partnered with the CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) to launch a new customised version of the IE8 promoting online safety for families.
Dubbed 'Internet Explorer 8 Click Clever Click Safe', the browser embeds advice, help and report services directly into the toolbar and also adds a Web Slice with one click access to information on cyber bullying, viruses, hacking, mobile protection, harmful content and sexual behaviour.
"As more and more young people are learning, playing and communicating online, it is vital we provide the appropriate safety information as we know this is one of the most effective ways of helping to protect people," said Microsoft business and marketing officer Matthew Bishop.
So this is all good right? Hmmmmn. The plus sides are obvious, but my issue is Microsoft itself could make browsing much safer in general if it would simply pull support for its ageing and vulnerable Internet Explorer 6 browser like Google is. Secondly, adding what amounts to glorified bookmarks is not particularly earth shattering and requires users in a potentially risky situation to actually realise they are in a risky situation in the first place. If they do spot this then surely they just close the browser?
Lastly, while IE8 is a great improvement on the evils of IE6 and indeed IE7 it is in no way a browser I'd recommend to anyone concerned about viruses and hacking (it lasted just 'hours' at the Pwn2Own hacking competition). Furthermore, IE8 is simply slower and less advanced than... well, all of its rivals. I would back every one of its major rivals ahead of IE - and my personal vote goes to Chrome combined with its Web of Trust extension).
Still, it's a nice thought Microsoft...
In related news Microsoft has rejected claims there is a bug in Windows 7 which leads to a minority of users being incorrectly told to 'Consider replacing your battery' by the battery indicator. The message adds: "There is a problem with your battery, so your computer might shut down suddenly". In response Microsoft has run tests and says it has found no evidence of the warnings being incorrect.
"To the very best of the collective ecosystem knowledge, Windows 7 is correctly warning batteries that are in fact failing and Windows 7 is neither incorrectly reporting on battery status nor in any way whatsoever causing batteries to reach this state," said Windows division president Steven Sinofsky. "In every case we have been able to identify the battery being reported on was in fact in need of recommended replacement."
The theory is users with defective/ageing batteries largely have older laptops which ran under previous versions of Windows that did not report on battery condition. Their subsequent upgrade to Windows 7 sees the warning flash up for the first time. It's certainly plausible. So it is your fault, not theirs... probably.