Windows 8 update brings back browser ballot screen

After a couple of complaints in the European Union, way back in February 2010, it was decided that Microsoft must display a browser ballot screen to those living in Europe so that they can choose which browser they would like to use to try and stop the dominance of Internet Explorer. Until recently the browser ballot was not displayed in Windows 8, although today we've received word from a reader that an update brings it back.

KB976002, the same update number as the equivalent Windows 7 update, brings the browser "Choice Screen" to Windows 8. Italian reader Stefano tells us that the browser ballot is shown as a Metro-style grey tile in the Start Screen, which launches automatically upon the next boot of Windows 8 after the update is installed. From there you get to choose from a number of browsers through a Modern UI application, and if you choose to skip you can simply launch the tile again.

It's interesting that Microsoft has the capability to launch a Modern UI application straight from boot, which could suggest some clever hackers could find a way to boot the Desktop tile at boot - perhaps what the RetroUI folks did. Regardless, it now looks like folks in the EU will have to go through the browser ballot screen just like they did on Windows 7.

Thanks for the tip Stefano!

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38 Comments

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I still wanna know when will Apple be forced to do this with Safari. Such a crap ruling. Would love to shoot the person who ever came up with such a daft idea.

IE's dominance? they kidding me right? it isnt the 90%+ market share anymore they used to have, its what, around 30-40% nowadays? what a bunch of BULL if you ask me!

Those browsers do not have Metro mode. Last time I checked Chrome was faking being a Metro application, Firefox was still dumb and slow and buggy, and the rest weren't even giving a bleep.

You don't have to install the update which brings the Browser Ballot Screen, just right click on the update and select hide, that's what I do or you can let it install and deselect it as a start up item simple as that.

Richio said,
Never heard of Maxthon Browser...

Alternative shell for Trident (and in the latest version Webkit)

Richio said,
Never heard of Maxthon Browser...

It's a dual engine based browser with webkit being the default (not chromium-based as some may mistakenly think) and Trident being the alternative engine. It's pretty popular in china and seemed to catch up in terms of use after switching to webkit. as far as I remember it's being used more than Safari on windows, that's why I'm guessing it replaced it.
It's also available on iphone/ipad/android. The Maxthon company also develops other services such as skyfile, a dropbox-like service.

It is interesting how in Europe, Microsoft is forced to offer these alternative browsers with their OS and somehow Apple is okay with making Safari the only choice in theirs. Definitely reeks of double-standard. It's funny that given the choice, most still choose IE.

bradsday said,
It is interesting how in Europe, Microsoft is forced to offer these alternative browsers with their OS and somehow Apple is okay with making Safari the only choice in theirs. Definitely reeks of double-standard. It's funny that given the choice, most still choose IE.

Must have missed the info that Apple has a virtual desktop os monopoly in the EU...

MFH said,

Must have missed the info that Apple has a virtual desktop os monopoly in the EU...

They do have a tablet monopoly, and yet Windows RT tablets are getting hit by this too and Apple isn't.

MFH said,

Must have missed the info that Apple has a virtual desktop os monopoly in the EU...

There is alot you have missed, including the point he was making.

brianshapiro said,
Does the absence of the Safari icon mean its officially discontinued for Windows?

I managed to find it the other day but yeah its near enough dead for Windows

If it was me, I'd simply just right click and hide it. It's non-essential and pointless. Good thing they didn't have to do that crap here in the US.

Pam14160 said,
Smart move on MS's behalf. Now they won't have the EU breathing down their necks.

The problem remains on Windows RT though, right?

MFH said,

The problem remains on Windows RT though, right?

Windows RT isn't a continuation of the Windows x86/x64 line, it's a separate product built for a different architecture and device type (ARM tablets). As iOS and Android is. Additionally, Windows RT has zero market share therefore there are no anti-competitive concerns here.

That said, there is nothing stopping other companies from developing a browser written in WinRT and releasing it as a Metro app in the store.

TCLN Ryster said,

That said, there is nothing stopping other companies from developing a browser written in WinRT and releasing it as a Metro app in the store.

You mean apart from the fact that WinRT limits them to use Trident instead of their own engine?

TCLN Ryster said,
Windows RT isn't a continuation of the Windows x86/x64 line, it's a separate product built for a different architecture and device type (ARM tablets). As iOS and Android is. Additionally, Windows RT has zero market share therefore there are no anti-competitive concerns here.

Competition laws prevent companies from using their influence in the market place to gain an unfair advantage. Pretending that WinRT bears no relation to Windows 8 just isn't going to cut it. Browser marketshare gained through anti-competitive practices on WinRT can benefit Windows 8 and there is a direct influence.

More importantly, it's still a Windows product. It's competing in the same market. Who are you trying to fool?

theyarecomingforyou said,

Competition laws prevent companies from using their influence in the market place to gain an unfair advantage. Pretending that WinRT bears no relation to Windows 8 just isn't going to cut it. Browser marketshare gained through anti-competitive practices on WinRT can benefit Windows 8 and there is a direct influence.

More importantly, it's still a Windows product. It's competing in the same market. Who are you trying to fool?


Okay tell me. If WinRT is competing in the same market as Windows 8 x86/64. How come the iPad and Android tablets are considered a completely different market? But when Microsoft gets involved, all of a sudden its the same market? geesh, are you kidding me?

Bunch of hypocrites, as soon as something has the Microsoft label, people treat it differently (mostly like its a satans spawn) then other products from other companies who actually control markets where MS only just started in or just plays in.

Hilarious IMHO.

bjoswald said,
What's the point? If you don't like IE you use Chrome. None of the rest of them are worth a shill these days.

A more interesting question is, what OEMs aren't including alternate browsers, anyway? My recent buy from Lenovo practically threw Chrome in my face at first boot. Signature PCs might as well be exempt from this ballot (considering the people who'd buy them in the first place), and everyone else is burying the OS under a pile of crapware anyway.

bjoswald said,
What's the point? If you don't like IE you use Chrome. None of the rest of them are worth a shill these days.

You forgot Firefox. IE is slow and Chrome is spyware.

xpxp2002 said,

You forgot Firefox. IE is slow and Chrome is spyware.

If IE is slow, what do you call Firefox than?

xpxp2002 said,

You forgot Firefox. IE is slow and Chrome is spyware.

You can get creams for that tin-foil rash on your head from your local pharmacy.

MFH said,

If IE is slow, what do you call Firefox than?

Firefox is faster than IE on my machine. If you're talking about startup times, then to make things fair you'll have to preload Firefox, which I believe there's an addon for, because IE is preloaded with Windows.

bull****! considering I use firefox but mainly IE. But fanbois will always claim something it's not and compare it to IE10 and IE screams and is even faster than chrome.

simplezz said,
Firefox is faster than IE on my machine. If you're talking about startup times, then to make things fair you'll have to preload Firefox, which I believe there's an addon for, because IE is preloaded with Windows.

Really??? No need to use pre-load addon. Just re-run them after the first time to make it fair, thus Firefox have it all loaded in memory as well as IE. It's still slower for me.

KomaWeiß said,

Spyware my arse.


Howcome software that phones home all your user inputs and usage statistics with the one and only goal to make money out of your info... not spyware anymore?
flabbergasted how narrowminded people became nowadays. geesh
Just to clarify, Chrome itself (not talking comodore/ironware) phones home any link you click, how long you visit pages, how you went to these pages, when you went to these pages, how often you went to these pages. Run wireshark for a while and let it only track your Chrome traffic... you'll be surprised how goddamn much info Chrome phones back to Google's servers.
simplezz said,

Firefox is faster than IE on my machine. If you're talking about startup times, then to make things fair you'll have to preload Firefox, which I believe there's an addon for, because IE is preloaded with Windows.


IE isnt preloaded... Trident is. And Mozilla, Apple and Google are completely free to use Trident in their browsers.
MFH said,

If IE is slow, what do you call Firefox than?

Havent used 32bit FF since mozilla canceled their 64bit windows nightly (still wonder why, discriminating!) But with Palemoon... I do not really notice a difference in bootup between FF/IE10 though, although it appears IE seems a fraction faster in most cases. IE10 still kicks ass any other browser I got installed (Palemoon, opera and comodo dragon) when it comes to loading pages, smoothness of large websites (heavy websites could still be a pain on IE9).
And even with its addon-less standard functionality, it offers more then plain FF/Chrome ever would. And both slow down the more addons you have.
Chrome was lightweight when it was a new browser, but thats easy... it was lacking so much The less it has to run/load/exec, the faster it is in general.
With Google's awesomeness, where is my GPU rendering á la IE? and not using their lame ass webgl 'cheats' to do the same and still be tons slower then IE

Edited by ShadowMajestic, Sep 6 2012, 2:35pm :