IT Week currently has a mini group test of thin clients in the pipeline, and we settled on high-end models running Windows XP Embedded (XPE) in order to narrow the field down a bit.
XPE is a modular version of XP, designed so that device makers can pick and choose the functionality they want in their operating system build, while leaving out applications and other components that aren't necessary. The upshot is that thin clients based on XPE can run the same code as a standard Windows PC, although applications that need a lot of disk space are not practical.
During testing, I uncovered an unusual bug in one of the terminals, which caused Internet Explorer to crash and shut down. Thinking this might be a glitch in the build provided by the vendor, I notified the company concerned, and they sent me a replacement model. This exhibited the same issue, but by then the bug had also shown up in other models I was looking at. A screenshot of the error message is shown here.
I then reported the bug to Microsoft, to see if they could shed any light on the matter. It seemed likely that a bug occurring in devices from several different vendors might indicate a flaw in XPE itself, rather than an oversight of the vendors. However, despite several requests, there has been no response from the company whatsoever.
The bug occurs when browsing web pages, in particular those that carry animated content, such as IT Week's own pages. This could mean the bug has something to do with Flash-based content, but I'm only guessing. However, I have been unable to duplicate the error in desktop PCs with Internet Explorer 6.0.
This appears to be only a relatively minor issue as bugs go, but it can be annoying if it happens while you are looking for information on the Web. It is also annoying to be completely ignored when reporting a bug, but then there are plenty of security researchers out there who know that feeling.
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