Microsoft begins IE8 advertising blitz in the UK as browser choice arrives

Microsoft has begun airing several Internet Explorer 8 TV adverts in the UK just in time for the browser "ballot" choice screen.

European copies of Windows began receiving a Windows Update for the controversial browser choice screen this week. The choice screen offers Internet Explorer users a selection of other browsers such as Mozilla Firefox and Google's Chrome browser. The browser ballot screen software update is offered as an automatic download through Windows Update for Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 users. Users who currently have Internet Explorer selected as the default browser will see an introductory screen providing them with information about the update before being prompted to make a browser choice.

Microsoft has kick started an advertising blitz on UK TV stations to raise awareness of Internet Explorer 8 through what it calls "8 second demos". The demos show the new features of Internet Explorer 8 and feature the big blue E logo of Internet Explorer. Google recently started an advertising campaign across various parts of the UK with tube, billboard and newspaper advertising. The reason both parties are advertising free software is to gain the mind share of users in time for the browser choice ballot screen. The update will affect as many as 195 million people in 32 European countries so it's well worth both Microsoft's and Google's advertising revenue.

In July 2009, Microsoft proposed a ballot screen to allow users to pick their default browser in Windows XP, Vista and 7. The European Commission accepted Microsoft's plans in December 2009 after the software giant agreed to randomize the ballot screen due to several complaintsfrom rival software companies. The agreement marked the end of the "browser wars" after Opera originally filed a complaint with the EU in 2007. The European Union originally accused Microsoft of anti-trust violations back in January 2009.

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