Breakfast Briefing: IE 10's Flash whitelist, Apple in Belgian warranty probe, HMV's decline

Today's top stories in tech feature Internet Explorer, HMV, Apple, Windows Phone, Instagram and what really happens at a tech launch

15 Jan 2013

Today's tech news highlights include how to stay on Microsoft's Internet Explorer Flash whitelist, a look inside the demise of HMV, and Apple's warranties under investigation - again.

The Flash whitelist inside IE 10

ZDNet has an insightful look at the whitelist of sites that are able to run Flash in Internet Explorer 10, with a piece that looks at why some sites are approved, even on RT-based devices, while others are locked. With Flash often criticised for security issues and battery munching by poorly coded apps, it's not the most popular software.

According to Microsoft, with the desktop version of IE 10 on Windows RT or the Metro version of IE 10 on either platform, Flash content "runs only if the domain hosting that content is listed on Microsoft's Compatibility View list".

ZDNet discovers the whitelist is long and growing. "When I first began looking into this issue, I assumed that this whitelist represented an exclusive club," reports Ed Bott. "That's not true. The most recent version of the CV list includes more than 4,300 domains where you can view and interact with Flash content in the otherwise plugin-free IE versions."

Inside HMV's web-driven decline

HMV's fall from musical grace and into administration may have been predictable for anyone observing the online trends – in fact, it was even brought up at company meetings years ago.

According to marketing expert Philip Beeching, he pitched for business at the troubled high street retailer back in 2002, warning bosses that they were facing serious threats from web-based rivals.

"I said: 'The three greatest threats to HMV are, online retailers, downloadable music and supermarkets discounting loss leader product'. Suddenly I realised the MD had stopped the meeting and was visibly angry," Beeching said in a blog post.

"'I have never heard such rubbish', he said. 'I accept that supermarkets are a thorn in our side … as for the other two, I don't ever see them being a real threat, downloadable music is just a fad and people will always want the atmosphere and experience of a music store rather than online shopping'." Not so much atmosphere these days.

Apple facing Belgian warranty probe

An eagle-eyed Slashdot poster has uncovered a lawsuit from the Belgian consumer organisation Test-Aankoop/Test-Achats that accuses Apple of breaching European warranty laws.

In a move that echoes an earlier case brought in Italy – in which Apple was fined €900,000 – the consumer group claims the company is confusing customers with the differences between the standard rights consumers are eligible for and more expensive top up cover such as Apple Care. The Italian fine might have seemed like a drop in the ocean, but if the situation is replicated across the EU, the sanctions could start to bite.

Please insert disc to reboot your phone

It might not be a blue screen of death, but The Register has a picture story that it claims shows Windows Phone 8's roots as a Windows family member. A handset owner tinkering with his phone's internal memory managed to break the device, sparking a prompt from the phone to "insert your installation disc and restart your computer".

Instagram loses half its users

Instagram lost half its daily active users after a backlash over new terms, The Register has reported. Data from AppStats shows daily users fell from 40m to 17m after Instagram announced plans claim ownership of users’ photos. The Facebook-owned photo sharing service has since retreated from those plans.

The news comes as reports suggest Facebook itself lost 600,000 users in the UK alone in December, a slide of 1.86%. The UK was the only country in the top ten for Facebook to shed users, The Telegraph said.

What really happens at tech press conferences

Ever wonder what it’s like at a tech press conference? Games journalist Grant Howitt went to his first tech launch, covering a new Toughbook tablet from Panasonic, writing up his bewilderment in a brilliant blog post.

"Jan talks about retina displays and the way that the human eye can only perceive a certain number of pixels at a certain range and something about PPI," he writes. "I think Panasonic has invented a new kind of pixel. A bendy pixel. I don’t understand. What does PPI stand for? What am I doing with my life? Why am I here in this basement in Munich at the age of 26 staring at a man fire a laser pointer at a graph? How did this happen? I wanted to be a Sky Pirate. I don’t understand any of this."

In case you’re wondering, his description is spot on - this is what tech press conferences are actually like.

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