Microsoft to randomize browser ballot for EU

Ever since the EU decided to come down on Microsoft for their monopolistic ways, Microsoft has been trying their best to appease them. In order to settle the dispute about whether bundling Internet Explorer as Windows' default browser was fair practice, Microsoft initially proposed a browser-less OS. This solution would soon shift to a ballot screen, allowing users to select whichever browser they feel most comfortable with. Of course, this led to more complaints, as the ballot would appear in, none other than, IE itself.

A Firefox user experience designer felt that this gave Microsoft three times as much space as everyone else. Microsoft suggested that listing the browsers in alphabetical order would make the ballot fair. Other browser manufacturers, such as Opera, felt that to be a poor solution, as future browsers may name their software in a way that pushes them to the forefront of the ballot.

What was their suggested solution? Randomize the ballot according to ComputerWorld. Each time the ballot is opened, the choices would appear in a different order. With regards to the ballot loading in IE, Opera's Hakon Wium Lie, supported the idea of Microsoft disabling their security warnings for the ballot, leaving no pop-ups to question a user's decision to download and install an alternate browser.

Should it get the green light, Microsoft would then have eight weeks to roll it out to current versions of Windows in Europe. If a user currently uses IE as their default browser, the update would make their computer present the ballot next time the browser is loaded. For new PCs, the ballot would be presented the first time the owner tries accessing the Internet. The ballot could be finalized by the EU as soon as December 15th.

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randomize... shmamomize... it's all the same.
What matters is that Internet Explorer [M$'s *built-in* web browser] is the only application that displays the ballot.
Therefore the term "monopolistic" is 100% justified.
I've said it b4, I'll say it again...
To be fair to all users, the ballot must be displayed in plain old Notepad.
And Notepad can be easily upgraded to display URLs as active [clickable] links [Win32pad (freeware Notepad replacement) for example, does this for a very long time now].
There is no need for a pre-existing web browser in order to get another web browser. Get it?

I find it interesting that everyone's fighting for that first slot, when to me the slot closest to the middle of the screen would get the brunt of my attention... I dunno...

Users that know what a browser is also know that they have a choice... but for those that dont, introducing this ballot would seemingly only confuse them. "Browser...? Huh? What happened to the internet?!"

Yeah, I never thought this was really a great idea for the user, as I do expect it to confuse a lot of people. Or send them into a panic ("Which one do I choose?!?!")... I guess it will be left to be seen...

On the other hand plenty won't be ridiculously overwhelmed by this, and will instead at least try to understand in way they never would have before.

You know what I find funny? All these other competing browsers want IE removed from Windows. How then, do they expect users to download their own browsers? I for one wouldn't know how to go about installing it, unless I downloaded it using another computer or it was pre-bundled.

Oh my god how out of hand is this?! Internet Explorer = the internet to most people. The only reason Opera have been so pushy about this is because they can't get market share by themselves, becuase their product is TERRIBLE.

If MS have to do this, tell Apple to stop getting people to install Safari as automatic default, make THEM ask too.

Donkey88 said,
Oh my god how out of hand is this?! Internet Explorer = the internet to most people. The only reason Opera have been so pushy about this is because they can't get market share by themselves, becuase their product is TERRIBLE.

If MS have to do this, tell Apple to stop getting people to install Safari as automatic default, make THEM ask too.

Agreed on both points.

This is so stupid. Most users don't care what browser they are using, some don't even know what a browser is. They just want the internet. That big blue e logo is "the internet" to them, so they click it and they're happy. The ones who are more tech savvy know they can download Firefox or any browser they want. The only people making a fuss about it are those crybabies at Opera and the EU.

chisss said,
I don't know if this was asked... but how do you open a website without a browser to begin with? lol


even without a browser - you can still FTP: by command line to download software. (though the standard user would not even have a clue as to how to do this)

or even use a script- (which would do the ftp download for the novice user- but should the other browser companies change the file name or the location of the download then they would be out of luck.)


However - Microsoft just put the ballot screen in Internet Explorer with links so people can have the show me more option (to display web content) and the companies logo's showing.

I personally don't have a problem with Microsoft installing their browser, just not making it the default browser- unless the user chooses it. I can see these other companies asking Microsoft to at least notify the end user that there are other alternatives. (in fact I used the IE8 on my Windows 7 to download both Chrome and Firefox- and Firefox is easily set to my default browser).


Though come sometime soon after Microsoft is done giving in to the EU- Apple will have soon have to allow the user other options similar to the way Microsoft has- (instead of Safari)

I don't see it with Linux though - because it is a free based OS - and they make it easy to choose an alternate browser (through synaptic as an example)

How about apple removing safari from OSX? or iTunes, maybe QT? since I'd like to choose what I surf the web and Listen or view media with...

I need my OS to do what I want the instant I turn it on, If I have to use IE to download FF or Opera or whatever, it should be there, already installed.

I suppose all the competition would rather there be no browser by default so you would have to goto your local pc shop... and buy a browser. Opera would have loved that. It's got to a rather ridiculous stage now but I feel it rather amusing the ballot screen is in IE not hard for them to strip the IE ui off and just present a box would still be IE underneath but who'd know?

end of the day mass market = don't care what they run so long as everyone else runs it so they don't feel left out and there are no incompatibilities with any sites.

JT1985 said,
I suppose all the competition would rather there be no browser by default so you would have to goto your local pc shop... and buy a browser.


Microsoft was going to do that. No IE at all in Windows 7 in Europe unless the OEM installed it. The board and Opera / Firefox / etc didn't want that option.

If I were MS I would have just said it's the Alphabetical screen, like they arealy did, or No browser gets installed with a nice popup saying that FF and Opera think you're too stupid to do it yourself.

Maybe MS should remove Calculator.. I mean I made a Calculator app, then I could get on the ballot for that.. Same with notepad, and minesweeper..

There are other Kernels too, maybe they should be prompted for that also.. Hell maybe even an 'I see your installing Windows, have you tried Linux ?' screen..

This whole thing is retarded, it started find, when you Couldn't remove IE, and making another browser default, and Keeping it default, was near impossible.. But now it's a bunch of whiners upset that the masses just don't give a **** about "All they offer" ..

And this adds another reason to why I hate FF.. The browser is fine, but the attitudes of it's developers and users leave a lot to be desired.. And Opera lost my support during the time they had banner adds in their browser.. Cutting the usable space for the website to a thimble..

It's about time they're randomizing it! I've only been saying that they should since the beginning of all this trouble...

And I still think that Mozilla should be more concerned that it says "Firefox 3" instead of "Firefox 3.5"

They Submitted the Logo.. Same way it says IE8, or Safari 4..

What Mozilla should be concerned about is they had to whine and make a scene to get this to happen basically makes a blanket statement to the users that they are too stupid to be expected to make their own decision, and would clearly just click the first in the list..

If a user currently uses IE as their default browser, the update would make their computer
present the ballot next time the browser is loaded.

. . . and make it nice and confusing for everyone! Well done.
EU Sucks, I don't moan that Ford is a popular make, so they should give me the option to buy the Japanese versions of their cars now do I?

I think it should be upto microsoft whether to have a selection screen or not, its their operating system they should be able to do as they please, it's like on a pair of nike trainers addidas saying it isnt fair they want there logo on there too.. Daft!

bobbba said,
Not really, it's more like wanting to choose what socks you wear with your trainers after Nike sewed them in.

But you can still wear your favorite socks under it can't you

bobbba said,
Not really, it's more like wanting to choose what socks you wear with your trainers after Nike sewed them in.

No, its like Nike including a pair of socks in every sale of shoes. Or, companies including batteries in the sale of an electronics product, or lightbulbs in the sale of lamps.

----Or, Apple including their earbuds in the sale of iPods.

The legal issue isn't whether IE is removable, its that its there at all.

Actually, the iPod has a near monopoly just like Windows, so I see no reason why the EU shouldn't ask Apple to include a rebate in the iPod box, which could be spent on a set of earphones of the purchaser's choosing--based on a ballot on Apple's website.

bobbba said,
Not really, it's more like wanting to choose what socks you wear with your trainers after Nike sewed them in.


Nobody made you buy it

If a user currently uses IE as their default browser, the update would make their computer present the ballot next time the browser is loaded.

Why do they need to ask people who have already chosen, thats just pathetic.

metallithrax said,
Why do they need to ask people who have already chosen, thats just pathetic.

Because they haven't chosen, they just didn't have a choice before.

And they think giving them the option is gonna make them change from what they've been using? Like I said pathetic on the EU's and other browser manufacturers parts.

metallithrax said,
It's just that most of the people that this applies to will just choose IE anyway, because they know no different.


And guys like me, who do know different, and still choose IE. Don't assume other browsers are better, it's about taste.

ArKeYa said,
What's wrong? Nothing is being taken away from the user. More choices == good? No?


The choice is there on the internet, this isn't about choice, it's about promoting competitors.

Silverskull said,
Because they haven't chosen, they just didn't have a choice before.


You have a choice, i bet you are on FF now.

metallithrax said,
And they think giving them the option is gonna make them change from what they've been using? Like I said pathetic on the EU's and other browser manufacturers parts.

The EU is not doing this because they want ppl to use a browser other than IE, they want ppl to choose IE if they are going to use it, and at the moment, in a way most ppl don't choose what browser they use. A lot of ppl aren't aware that they have a choice; so effectively they don't. This browser ballot screen is as much about education as anything else.

its a browser ballot screen thats being shown on Internet Explorer. so what that screen shot is showing the user is that IE is already installed.

the user isnt really being given a choice if they want IE or not. its their by default.

xSuRgEx said,
its a browser ballot screen thats being shown on Internet Explorer. so what that screen shot is showing the user is that IE is already installed.

the user isnt really being given a choice if they want IE or not. its their by default.


Nah I think it's just people love to complain. They find something they don't like, so they get MS to change it, then they find something else, get MS to change it, and so on.

In this case, they did change. And then ff and opera just found something else to whine about.

Regardless, its their software and their product. They have the right to do whatever they please with it.

/- Razorfold said,
In this case, they did change. And then ff and opera just found something else to whine about.

Regardless, its their software and their product. They have the right to do whatever they please with it.

Umm no it just more than FF,Opera. Google and Apple are in this as well so don't try to simple put all the blame on just FF and Opera. and it's not
whining it's legitimate complaint.

While it's true it their software and product, it doesn't give them the right to bundle IE as the default browser and
not to include or at least inform the consumers of other browsers other than IE.

FF and opera have done most of the complaining/whining, google and apple for the most part have stayed out of it.

Do you expect Toyota to give you the option of using Honda engines/seats/steering wheel etc in their cars? No.
Do you expect Shell to advertise Exxon Mobil motor oils in their store? No.
Do you expect Nike to advertise Reebok and Adidas in their stores just to inform the consumer of other shoe makers? No.

I can give you a lot more examples, but in each case the answer is no.

It's their product, it's their code, and they're the ones selling it. Hence, they can do whatever the hell they please.

I actually have an issue with this. "Select your browser" could be interpreted as "Which browser are you using at the moment?".

brianshapiro said,
An irony of Opera complaining is all the things they bundle in their browser... IRC chat, personal web server,...

Ya but no one uses it, so it doesn't count lol

/- Razorfold said,
FF and opera have done most of the complaining/whining, google and apple for the most part have stayed out of it.

Do you expect Toyota to give you the option of using Honda engines/seats/steering wheel etc in their cars? No.
Do you expect Shell to advertise Exxon Mobil motor oils in their store? No.
Do you expect Nike to advertise Reebok and Adidas in their stores just to inform the consumer of other shoe makers? No.

I can give you a lot more examples, but in each case the answer is no.

It's their product, it's their code, and they're the ones selling it. Hence, they can do whatever the hell they please.


Perhaps your examples would be more relevant if the companies involved had monopolies or near-monopolies. While I haven't done any research into whether any of the companies you stated are monopolies or not, I would assume that they are not.

duneworld said,

Perhaps your examples would be more relevant if the companies involved had monopolies or near-monopolies. While I haven't done any research into whether any of the companies you stated are monopolies or not, I would assume that they are not.




Just to clarify - Microsoft is not a Monopoly!!

Extract from - http://www.google.com/dictionary?q=monopol...pell=1&oi=spell

If a company, person, or state has a monopoly on something such as an industry, they have complete control over it, so that it is impossible for others to become involved in it

duneworld said,
Perhaps your examples would be more relevant if the companies involved had monopolies or near-monopolies. While I haven't done any research into whether any of the companies you stated are monopolies or not, I would assume that they are not.


1) Thank you for saying that you have no idea but you are going to assume they aren't to make your point.

2) A monopoly implies more than just having the biggest marketshare. You also have to engage in active anti-competitive measures. I would only complain if Microsoft had actively moved to prevent users from installing competitor browsers. They aren't, they are just providing a browser for users when the users purchase their OS.

Its like buying a car. The car comes with the manufacturer's radio. You can easily install your own radio from a competitor, but the manufacturer places the radio there for people who don't care and just want a radio. Anti-competitive practices would be if the manufacturer made it almost impossible for anyone to install a new radio. (Yes, some cars use proprietary parts, but just work with me here.)

There is nothing stopping you from installing Firefox, making it the default browser and never using IE again.

Indeed Microsoft is not a monopoly, but it is dominant in terms of OS. So they have one hell of a launch pad to promote their browser.
There is something stopping some people from installing and using another browser; lack of knowledge. Which is what the EU is trying to address - maybe they have other motives, I wouldn't know - and there is nothing wrong with education.
Do you disagree with my assumptions that the companies you mentioned don't have monopolies/dominance in their markets? There are after all dozens of car makers of note, same for oil and leisure/sports wear companies.
And I agree with your second analogy.

duneworld said,
Indeed Microsoft is not a monopoly, but it is dominant in terms of OS. So they have one hell of a launch pad to promote their browser.
There is something stopping some people from installing and using another browser; lack of knowledge. Which is what the EU is trying to address - maybe they have other motives, I wouldn't know - and there is nothing wrong with education.
Do you disagree with my assumptions that the companies you mentioned don't have monopolies/dominance in their markets? There are after all dozens of car makers of note, same for oil and leisure/sports wear companies.
And I agree with your second analogy.


There are also multiple Web browsers & Operating Systems - They shouldn't have to inform people that others exist or give them the option to use it.

What a waste of time, most average people will just click IE, as they will think I'm running Microsoft Windows so I will use Microsoft IE.
They are very unlikely to pick browsers they have never heard of.
I still can't get my mum to understand exactly what a browsers is, let alone get her to understand the difference between an address bar, and a search bar (she thinks the whole internet is "Google" lol).

Nope, most users wont even do that. They will just start typing in a new address in the location area, completing ignoring what is currently on the page.

Oh this is stupid........ How the bloody hell is this gonna work in a corp enviroment.......

Also maybe i dont want to be prompted with some crappy browser ballot screen, maybe im happy with my choice. Maybe Opera should shove it!

tunafish said,
Oh this is stupid........ How the bloody hell is this gonna work in a corp enviroment.......

Also maybe i dont want to be prompted with some crappy browser ballot screen, maybe im happy with my choice. Maybe Opera should shove it!


Since when do you get to choose a browser in a corp environment anyway?

You just plain won't get this screen or a choice.

war said,
Will simply be turned off using group policy.

Yep,
And so will half the other features in IE - Gotta love Group Policies, they make life so much easier

At least half of the users will click this ballot screen away and feel annoyed because they don't know what it's about (or they're just too lazy to read the message).

Too bad for Mozilla, Apple, Google and Opera, but most PC users just don't care.

Master1 said,
What can we expect next from the EU, place a cap on how much oxygen people breathe :angry:

Wow, talk about ridiculous slippery slope arguments...

Kirkburn said,
Wow, talk about ridiculous slippery slope arguments...

why do you think its unlikely,with what the EU is doing, pretty soon for them theyd want to take over everyone

Master1 said,
why do you think its unlikely,with what the EU is doing, pretty soon for them theyd want to take over everyone


....................ok?

InsaneNutter said,
To be honest I think the average user who this is aimed at will just type a web address and not care about the ballot screen...


No, don't give opera more ideas!!!

Ok, honestly, I first was just ****ed of the way opera was taking advantage of this, and then, mozilla jumped into the wagon. I know that is sucks having such a monopoly in the browser market, but we're being extreme... What's next!? Bailout for Ubuntu (becasue of the market share it has on the linux desktop) and Symbian!?

InsaneNutter said,
To be honest I think the average user who this is aimed at will just type a web address and not care about the ballot screen...


This. Most people I've observed pay no attention to IE7's First Run Settings page, even though it would go away if only they took the time to read. Instead, they head straight for the address bar, type "google.com", press Enter, and then search... for Facebook.

i think EU is complete idiot. Why cant a firm bundle their other free software? Opera and Firefox must work harder to get market share. firefox is doing that, spread firefox ads, remember?

It's not bundling when you build it inot the OS so much that it can't be removed. If you want to uninstall Firefox, no problem. With IE the best you get is hiding it.

Dead'Soul said,
Opera and Firefox must work harder to get market share.

microsoft is working very hard to get market share by including IE with Windows

bobbba said,
It's not bundling when you build it inot the OS so much that it can't be removed. If you want to uninstall Firefox, no problem. With IE the best you get is hiding it.

since win7 you can uninstall it

Kirkburn said,
It's still mostly just hiding it.


Only if you're incapable of distinguishing between layout engine and browser.

bobbba said,
It's not bundling when you build it inot the OS so much that it can't be removed. If you want to uninstall Firefox, no problem. With IE the best you get is hiding it.


Not really, when you uninstall IE from Windows 7, the browser is actually removed, the only part left behind is the rendering engine, and removing that would be stupid because quiet a few applications depend on it

carmatic said,
microsoft is working very hard to get market share by including IE with Windows

So what? it is THEIR OWN OS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I still dont understand why people want to remove IE from PC. If you dont want it dont use it.there are lot of features in windows which you dont use do you remove them?
and i agree EU is an idiot.

bobbba said,
It's not bundling when you build it inot the OS so much that it can't be removed. If you want to uninstall Firefox, no problem. With IE the best you get is hiding it.

Thats what geeks want, to remove IE, but that isn't the legal case against MS; the legal case is that its in the OS at all.

DonC said,
I have yet to understand why having IE hidden instead of uninstalled is an issue to the average user.

Same here. I don't understand that whatsoever... If it's hidden you're still not using it for web browsing. LOL

Frank Fontaine said,
Not really, when you uninstall IE from Windows 7, the browser is actually removed, the only part left behind is the rendering engine, and removing that would be stupid because quiet a few applications depend on it

Indeed. So why do people make such a big deal about that? I don't get it...

shawncm217 said,
I hope this doesn't end up on US machines. If it does, can I sue the EU and Opera for harassment for making me re-choose IE?

Yes, but you won't.

I would just install IE and use it occasionally just to spite these morons at Opera.. hope their browser never pics up market share!!!!

Sounds good. The request to turn off security notifications is just odd though, technically speaking, everything that's not already on your computer from a fresh install is insecure.

I agree. Perhaps the browsers thought that this would discourage you from installing their browser? But I don't like that at all.

OK, randomize it, but please remove the worst whiners from the list: Opera and FF. That would've been awesome :).

fobban said,
OK, randomize it, but please remove the worst whiners from the list: Opera and FF. That would've been awesome :).

Then we're only left with the good browsers, so yeah, good deal

It should be randomised by market share, so browsers with less share get displayed less often, e.g. if Opera only has 1% market share then it should only be show 1% of the time

Remote Sojourner said,
Whiners? What they are doing is within the law. People in EU don't live in a jungle shooting everyone like the US you know.

Yup, you went there.

Good job comparing an internet debate about browser randomization to generalizing the United States as a jungle of a people who shoot each other. You're a man of class.

It's not about whether it's within the law. You really don't see how this is silly? Other companies with other browsers are telling Microsoft what to do when all they have to do is say STFU WE DO WHAT WE WANT (which is what I wish they would say sometimes, but that doesn't look good). Instead they're trying to appease them and they're still ungrateful. Alphabetical order? Your browser is the first listed on YOUR OWN OS? That's RIDICULOUS! Why would you promote your own product? Who does that, honestly?

KSib said,
Instead they're trying to appease them and they're still ungrateful.

Sorry, I stopped reading there. If you don't understand the difference between Microsoft being forced by law and political pressure and a polite gesture (i.e. attempting to appease) then you really don't deserve an opinion or are clearly a fanboy. I'm ungrateful when people don't shoot me; I mean, hell, it's against the law.

Remote Sojourner said,
Whiners? What they are doing is within the law. People in EU don't live in a jungle shooting everyone like the US you know.

looks like you live in a jungle.

KSib said,
Alphabetical order? Your browser is the first listed on YOUR OWN OS? That's RIDICULOUS! Why would you promote your own product? Who does that, honestly?

Except that it isn't promoting, they're forcing us to use IE. I assume you've never heard of how bad a monopoly could be. Go learn more.

Glendi said,
Except that it isn't promoting, they're forcing us to use IE. I assume you've never heard of how bad a monopoly could be. Go learn more.


Who is forcing you to use IE? I have never seen Windows refuse or prevent another web browser from installing. You have always been free to install and use whatever browser that was coded for Windows you wanted.

BrentA said,
Who is forcing you to use IE? I have never seen Windows refuse or prevent another web browser from installing. You have always been free to install and use whatever browser that was coded for Windows you wanted.

Yep. I use Firefox because I like Firefox. I went and got it and Windows never complained... Amazing...

M_Lyons10 said,
Yep. I use Firefox because I like Firefox. I went and got it and Windows never complained... Amazing...

indeed...IE8 is perfectly capable...for downloading ur browser of choice :P

BrentA said,
Who is forcing you to use IE? I have never seen Windows refuse or prevent another web browser from installing. You have always been free to install and use whatever browser that was coded for Windows you wanted.

Microsoft IS FORCING you to use it, if you install windows xp,vista or windows 7, then it came preinstalled. Later you can find some hideous way to remove it (that simply remove the icon).

Then, if you want to install firefox then you must use iexplorer for install it. May be it is not a big deal for a home-users but it is a real trouble for a corporation with 5'000 machines, hence most corporates decide to adopt iexplorer 6 (yes, 6!) as the default browser of the company.

Magallanes said,
Microsoft IS FORCING you to use it, if you install windows xp,vista or windows 7, then it came preinstalled. Later you can find some hideous way to remove it (that simply remove the icon).


So, Microsoft is FORCING you to use it merely by it existing on your computer?

The fact is that Microsoft can't fully remove IE without causing lots of apps to break, simply because IE provides an API that other apps can use if they want a web browser control without the work. (The same is true with Safari on the Mac, BTW.)

Then, if you want to install firefox then you must use iexplorer for install it. May be it is not a big deal for a home-users[...]


I don't know where you live but where I live, there are these things called magazines, and most of them include the major browsers on CD/DVD. You could carry Firefox around on your flash drive as well. So, yeah.

But anyway, I don't see the problem. So you have to use IE for about thirty seconds. Wow, torture.

but it is a real trouble for a corporation with 5'000 machines,[...]

Most corporations use Group Policy to manage their computers, which, among other things, allows one to deploy software over thousands of computers at once. (There is no reason they can't deploy IE8 using this method.) Though it's been requested, Mozilla doesn't make Firefox available in the MSI format that's required for this process, and so admins have to rely on third parties, who generally lag quite a bit behind Mozilla's release.

hence most corporates decide to adopt iexplorer 6 (yes, 6!) as the default browser of the company.


Most companies choose to use IE6 because they have mission-critical internal webapps that only work with IE6, NOT because it's the default browser. Sheesh.