Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Windows Internet Explorer Microsoft Mozilla

Microsoft Giving Rival Browsers a Lift 272

Posted by kdawson
from the thanks-for-the-add dept.
gollum123 tips an article at the NY Times on the progress of the European Windows browser choice screen that we have been discussing recently. "Rivals of Microsoft's market-leading Web browser have attracted a flurry of interest since the company, fulfilling a regulatory requirement, started making it easier for European users of its Windows operating system to switch. Mozilla, whose Firefox browser is the strongest competitor to Microsoft's Internet Explorer worldwide, said that more than 50,000 people had downloaded Firefox via a 'choice screen' that has been popping up on Windows-equipped computers in Europe since the end of last month. ... Opera Software, based in Oslo, said downloads of its browser in Belgium, France, Britain, Poland, and Spain had tripled since the screen began to appear. Microsoft said it was too early to tell whether the choice screen might prompt significant numbers of users to change. The digital ballot is being delivered over the Internet with software updates, and it is expected to take until mid-May to complete the process. The browser choice will also be presented to buyers of new Windows computers across the European Union for five years."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Microsoft Giving Rival Browsers a Lift

Comments Filter:
  • BTW (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 08, 2010 @08:08PM (#31407960)

    The script on that page uses a proper shuffle algorithm now (Fisher-Yates/Durstenfeld). If the page is viewed without Javascript, the order is fixed though, with IE being in the leftmost spot...

    • Re:BTW (Score:4, Insightful)

      by biryokumaru (822262) * <biryokumaru@gmail.com> on Monday March 08, 2010 @08:40PM (#31408262)
      I have to wonder, why would a brand new installation of Windows have javascript turned off?
      • by hedwards (940851)
        Sensible default? I'd think the better question would be why does a brand new installation of Windows have javascript at all if none of the browsers are installed.

        When I think about it, on some level it seems wrong that browsers default to having javascript enabled and to doing stupid things like saving form data. At very least make those things options available to turn on during the first time you open the browser. Or more specifically directing you to do it yourself with adequate instructions.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by digitalunity (19107)

          Windows script host is an integral part of the windows operating system. Most scripted automation tasks rely on it in Windows.

          WSH, by default supports both JScript and VBScript.

      • by TheLink (130905)
        Even if it's on, over a slower internet connection, you briefly see IE in the leftmost spot. This is suboptimal for choice.

        But anyway, it does seem to be working - people are trying out other browsers.

        It may also show how trusting and confident people are about downloading new software, installing it and running it on their systems...
  • by bsDaemon (87307) on Monday March 08, 2010 @08:09PM (#31407968)
    Not being from Europe, and also having no intention to use Windows 7 any time in the near future, I haven't seen this "choice screen" until I just searched for a screen shot of it. There appear to be little one-line descriptions, but nothing really substantive from which to base a choice upon if you didn't already know the differences between the browsers to some degree anyway (in which case, you'd have probably downloaded whichever one you want to use separately regardless of this court-mandated action). So, to my question: is there any way to measure how many of these downloads were due to users making an informed choice rather than just "clicking something" like they do with the "next" button on most graphical installers? And what happens if you just click "select later?" Does it still install IE and default to that?
    • There is a "find out more" link under every browser description in the selection screen.

      That said, of all browsers, IE seems to have the most coherent and persuasive page linked from there.

      • That said, of all browsers, IE seems to have the most coherent and persuasive page linked from there.

        This leads me to ask who wrote the descriptions of the various browsers.

        • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday March 08, 2010 @10:33PM (#31409176) Journal

          This leads me to ask who wrote the descriptions of the various browsers.

          It's something that is trivial to find out on your own. Here [browserchoice.eu] is the ballot page. If you click on "Tell me more" buttons, you'll see that all links lead to web pages hosted on a domain owned the company behind the browser (mozilla.com, apple.com, opera.com, google.com etc).

          Sorry if that didn't provide any substance to yet another "evil MS" conspiracy theory...

      • by Blakey Rat (99501)

        Each browser provided their own copy and link URLs. So if, for example, Mozilla's is sub-standard, they only have themselves to blame.

    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      Welcome to the human race. Most peoples' important life decisions are made emotionally, on a whim, or on a bet. Failing that, they ask a friend what they should do. Very few people think deeply about their situation, and even fewer confer any serious research (beyond the shlock pushed out by news agencies and the government) on all that many topics.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by trifish (826353)

      and also having no intention to use Windows 7 any time in the near future

      The browser ballot is presented to Windows XP and Vista users as well (via auto-update).

  • How is this news? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jorl17 (1716772) on Monday March 08, 2010 @08:11PM (#31407998)
    We all knew it would happen. If you know that X leads to Y and you also know that you will be doing X in Z time, then you know that, in said Z time, Y will happen.

    X Y Z Means eXtreme eYebally microZoft, of course.

    Seriously, though, this was really expected. It's not that people actually like the browsers in such cases, but they just randomly click. I've had my grandfather randomly picking Firefox already; I've had my grandmother clicking an add that says "You are visitor 1M, you win a big prize!". It's the fact that many people are still "ignorant" or careless towards this question.

    The dialog pops-up: "CHOOSE THY BROWSER".
    Reaction: "What the hell is a browser? Choose? I just want to 'surf' the 'internet'. Hell, this one with the shiny colors and the fancy name should be good, I'll click it. [double-clicks instead of single-clicking]."

    All in all, I'm glad that people are being given the choice. But, really, those of us who care about it, already had the means to do it; it's the fact that we're fucking upset that other people don't get pulled into using them...
    Jorl has spoken. Now mod up/down/sideways.
    • but i wonder what are Harald and Jarlssen doing. they havent been around since the last pillage ....

      (sorry i couldnt resist)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kiddygrinder (605598)
      it actually explains what a browser is and does not actually uninstall ie, it just removes it from the shortcuts bar. to be honest i don't see the down side, user clicks a blatantly obvious browser picker screen to choose their browser, which includes the friendly old ie "e for internet" logo, and microsoft get's one less place to abuse their monopoly.
  • Opera also released its version 10.5. Their increase in downloads might not be only the result off being linked by the Broswerchoice [browserchoice.eu] Site, but people upgrading their browsers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Presumably they can track where the users come from via referer HTTP header.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by aylons (924093)
      Pay attention: they said that the download rate increased 3x compared to other main releases.
  • Overreach. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cosm (1072588) <thecosm3@EEEgmail.com minus threevowels> on Monday March 08, 2010 @08:13PM (#31408028)
    I am aware Microsoft has been a little overreaching with their software practices in the past, but damn if it isn't contributing to the combined lack of intelligence of the computer illiterate populace when organizations like the EU force things like this on Microsoft.

    EU: "Hey Microsoft, people are too ignorant to do research and realize there exist alternatives to IE"
    M$: "So what."
    EU: "Give them the option to use third party software options other than the installed feature built into your OS, or else pay up!"
    M$: "Ok, we'll buckle, we don't need any more bad press waxing possible monopolist practices."

    What if I started a class action suit against Apple because Itunes is installed by default, and that is a "monopoly" on digital music storefronts? Would Apple have to install a Media Player Choice(TM) screen, allowing customers to choose Windows Media Player for OSX, RealPlayer, or WinAmp because they are too ignorant to do the research themselves? Yes Microsoft is huge. Yes they are the main provider of consumer level OS's to the big-box retailers. So let them package and run by default the software of their choosing. People don't have to buy M$. This would be like forcing a leading car manufacturer to offer brakes from 3rd party companies, because the buyers are complacent enough to accept their shitty factory brakes, but litigation hungry enough to file complaints about them.

    What the fuck is society coming to.
    • by unity100 (970058) on Monday March 08, 2010 @08:53PM (#31408396) Homepage Journal

      the food health standards are forced too. despite most of the populace knowing no shit about them. but, it is necessary.

      same thing here.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mobby_6kl (668092)

        Well you could argue about food safety standards too...

        But no, I don't see how this crap is necessary at all, and I'm saying this as a long time Opera user.

        Either the clueless people will be clicking randomly, which won't result in any improvements since they'll just stick to whatever they picked initially, or the were already familiar with that browser and would have downloaded it anyway. Then there's the fact that the top five vendors felt it's cool to keep everybody else out of the view, nicely hidden by

      • by gangien (151940)

        it's not necessary at all. You think the milk you drink is fresh and ok because the FDA makes it, or because you wouldn't buy it, if it wasn't?

        This is even more ridiculous, because no one's health is at stake. It's a friggin browser, and all of the major ones are available for free anyways.

      • ...Um, if the FDA would go away tomorrow, most things would still remain the same, only a lot more people would be aware of what they were eating and tainted foods would go bankrupt.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mirix (1649853)

          And people would die in the process. Some things need to be regulated.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by clarkkent09 (1104833) *
            It may or may not be the case that the FDA is needed, but one can argue about it, it's not nearly as clear cut as your post suggests. For example, google Milton Friedman and FDA. But the reason I am replying is this idea that the moment government stops regulating something, it becomes an anarchy in which anyone can do whatever they like. In a free market every incentive is for food producers to provide safe products. The moment a food company kills somebody through neglect, that company is finished just th
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "People don't have to buy M$"

      Yes they do. Oh, certainly there are individuals who can choose not to. On slashdot they're probably the majority. But the general population? If they want a computer, they go to a computer store, where they're offered a choice between Vista and Windows 7, if they're lucky. They might realize that a mac is an alternative, but they'll quickly find out that they have hundreds of dollars of software that won't run on it. They might realize that Linux is an alternative, but findin
      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        In my highschool we all used WordPerfect, Quattro Pro, Corel Draw/PhotoPaint, and FileMaker Pro. Does that mean nobody from my highschool is capable of using MS Word, Excel, Photoship, or Access? No it doesn't. Because in my day, they taught people how to use computers in general. How to look for stuff in the menus, and told us that we should read the help files if we got stuck. I guess there are quite a bit of people who can't operate a computer if something moves. But those kind of people would prob
    • Re:Overreach. (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 08, 2010 @09:15PM (#31408578)

      I am aware Microsoft has been a little overreaching with their software practices in the past

      Congratulations, sir, for winning the understatement of the day award.

      They barely got off in 1991, thanks to a deadlocked panel. They settled with the DOJ in 1994 to end their investigation into abusive monopoly practices, and then they breached that settlement, prompting the trial in 1998 involving 20+ states and the US Department of Justice.

      In that trial, witnesses intentionally failed to answer questions, claimed not to recall, and provided answers directly contrary to the documentary evidence. Microsoft submitted falsified video evidence and edited demonstrations regarding the operation of its software and the process involved in switching to that of competitors.

      They were convicted of abusive practices, a finding not overturned on appeal.

      Similar EU proceedings produced the ballot screen, also a minor slap on the wrist.

      What if I started a class action suit against Apple because Itunes is installed by default, and that is a "monopoly" on digital music storefronts?

      It's not. It's a dominant player, but it's not a monopoly, and even if it were, it has not engaged in unlawful leveraging of that power.

      Microsoft's IE trouble isn't because it's included with Windows--it's because they launched IE as a separate product and then violated their DOJ agreement when they started integrating into Windows. It took seven years of legal action to get them to un-integrate it.

      Had they complied with their original obligations and kept the products separate while allowing OEMs to bundle other browsers without being penalized, they wouldn't be in this situation and no one would care that MSIE is the default browser on MS Windows.

      Yes they are the main provider of consumer level OS's to the big-box retailers. So let them package and run by default the software of their choosing. People don't have to buy M$

      Contradiction of points. The difficulty of avoiding Microsoft and their misconduct in prior settlements is the major reason they face this penalty.

      This would be like forcing a leading car manufacturer to offer brakes from 3rd party companies, because the buyers are complacent enough to accept their shitty factory brakes, but litigation hungry enough to file complaints about them.

      Ah, the inept car analogy. Now I know I'm just feeding the trolls.

      1. No leading car manufacturer uses first-party brakes.
      2. Brakes are an integral component of a car; IE was a separate product that Microsoft decided to weave into Windows specifically to quash competing products, using their captive monopoly audience (both OEMs and customers) to do so.
      3. MS is not being punished for its selection of a shitty browser, but for its repeated breach of legally-binding settlements requiring that they not bundle any additional products with Windows. Trying to tie the IE codebase into the OS was an attempt to dodge that bullet by calling IE a "feature" and not a product.
      4. Unless that car company was using its cars in order to squeeze out other brake manufacturers, and made it such that installing third party brakes meant adding an extension onto the axles, with the MS brakes still mounted to the wheel, and then forcing all of its dealers and licensed maintenance shops to use MS brakes and not offer any others for aftermarket installation, it would not be engaging in similar conduct.
      5. Even if the car company did engage in that conduct, if it complied with the original penalty (no mandatory bundling), it would still more than likely be permitted to install its brakes as the default choice.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by LordLucless (582312)
      There isn't a problem with being a monopoly. There is a problem with abusing a monopoly. Monopolies are dangerous things in a market economy. Ideally, they shouldn't exist. If you are have a monopoly, there are some legal restrictions on things you can do with it. One of the things which is illegal is using your monopoly presence to squeeze competitors out of adjacent markets. Microsoft did this with Netscape. They used their desktop OS monopoly to squeeze Netscape out of the browser monopoly. This was ille
      • by cosm (1072588)
        "If you want an OS for your commodity x86 hardware, you can't go buy OSX"
        -And that failing by Apple to open up to independent builders will keep Microsoft happily on top.

        " Brakes are also not a good example, as they are an integral part of a car, and always have been."
        -To the average consumer, brakes are as important to the car as the browser is as important to the OS. How else would they access Facebook?

        And to your Holden argument, well, you are suggesting that because a manufacturer is the 'only' on
        • by cosm (1072588)
          So because something may not be integral, it is a requirement that it be made explicitly optional? And to play devil's advocate, if agreeing with your argument that the browser is not an integral part of the OS, if Ford was the only manufacturer of automobiles, would you suggest litigating Ford into offering different sun-visors from different manufacturers? Hell, what if Ford decided to use tires that were required at $5000 dollars extra per tire? You either buy a car or you don't. Eventually somebody els
        • To the average consumer, brakes are as important to the car as the browser is as important to the OS. How else would they access Facebook?

          That might be the case now, fifteen years after they were first added, but at the time, no, they weren't. There was a nascent browser market, and MS attempted to kill it in it's infancy, and roll it into their OS monopoly.

          And to your Holden argument, well, you are suggesting that because a manufacturer is the 'only' one in the playing field, they have to accommodate other companies in on their revenue stream because its 'unfair' to default to their built-in features.

          In essence, yes. Monopolies are abberations in a free market. They sometimes exist, due to natural laws, or simply the extreme competency of a company, but they are problematic. The laws of a free market do not apply to monopolies - therefore they need external regulations to keep them und

    • Re:Overreach. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Monday March 08, 2010 @09:40PM (#31408792)

      What if I started a class action suit against Apple because Itunes is installed by default, and that is a "monopoly" on digital music storefronts?

      You have your cart and horse backwards. First, iTunes the application is not a monopoly of any sort. OS X is not a monopoly of any sort. That leaves iTunes the service, which as a lot of market share in the US. That means Apple can't bundle OS X with that service, but they don't they bundle the application with the OS and tie the service to the application.

      If Apple required OS X to use iTunes, you'd have a case. If Apple forced people to buy a copy of OS X to buy a song on iTunes, you'd have a case. In fact though, Apple is moving iTunes to a Web interface to remove the tie with the application as they approach monopoly levels of market share... Which is probably the best you could hope for from any lawsuit regarding it. Apple can't leverage OS X's monopoly influence to promote iTunes because OS has no monopoly influence. Apple isn't leveraging iTunes service monopoly to promote anything in particular.

      What the fuck is society coming to.

      It is now and always has been a clamoring crowd of ignorance. People who insist on expressing their uneducated opinions without bothering to understand the topic even superficially first.

    • Re:Overreach. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by randallman (605329) on Monday March 08, 2010 @10:14PM (#31409036)

      A little? They've used their monopoly to dominate the browser, office software and corporate email. They go out of their way to avoid interoperability with their protocols and file formats and use vertical integration in addition to lock users into the Microsoft world of software. They have a history of unethical practices and continue today (OOXML, Linux patent threats). Many of their offerings have superior alternatives, but fitting them in with Microsoft's closed ecosystem is too difficult so people just do the easy thing and buy they stuff that works with their Active Directory, Exchange and Desktops.

      In the browser market, Microsoft has clearly shown abuse of their Desktop monopoly with their lack of standards compliance and proprietary extensions. Tell me why MS can't build a standards compliant browser with their resources. Even today, they're trying to push Siverlight to hold the keys to the web's multimedia and with MS holding patents, there will always be a cloud over compatible implementations like Mono. And don't say they won't play that card. They already did it with their Linux patent threats. They've been anti-competitive with I.E. They deserve this.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jmac_the_man (1612215)
      What if the thing they had the monopoly on was a hardware device of some sort, and they were using the hardware device to promote the use of iTunes?
  • by bunratty (545641) on Monday March 08, 2010 @08:16PM (#31408048)

    Opera Software, based in Oslo, said downloads of its browser in Belgium, France, Britain, Poland, and Spain had tripled since the screen began to appear.

    So now that makes six Opera users. And they'll all be crowing that this was all due to a complaint raised first by Opera!

    • downloads of its browser in Belgium, France, Britain, Poland, and Spain had tripled

      So now that makes six Opera users. And they'll all be crowing that this was all due to a complaint raised first by Opera!

      I just want to point out that would be a minimum of 15 users, if each country started with 1 and went to 3.

      Also, this was all because of Opera.

      Posting from the US. 16, bitches!

  • by headkase (533448) on Monday March 08, 2010 @08:16PM (#31408052)
    The best outcome of this in light of Microsoft's monopoly position is that it breaks how they got there: many people use Internet Explorer simply because they are unaware of alternatives. This puts that front-and-center. No longer will a more experienced user get strange looks when they mention another browser with a funny name. Instead quite a few people will have seen the ballot screen and especially initially it will raise the talk about them. Long-term it is good as well, once people become aware they have a choice in browsers they may also as well begin to wonder if they have choices elsewhere.
    • by cosm (1072588) <thecosm3@EEEgmail.com minus threevowels> on Monday March 08, 2010 @08:21PM (#31408096)
      It is a shame it takes this sort of spelling out to make people understand. Instead of spreading computer literacy, lets just continually dumb down our systems. Idiocracy, here we come!
      • If you want everyone to understand Moby Dick, you're going to have to make it a picture book [wikia.com]. If you don't, you're an elitist [insidehighered.com].
        • by cosm (1072588)
          Educate the masses.

          Moby Dick isn't the only book in the library. Is Charles Dickens to be blamed writing above the average reading level? Or is it the library's fault for pushing the book to hard on the ignorant masses?

          Neither. Same applies to Microsoft.
      • by Cryacin (657549)
        But it contains Electrolytes!
      • Well, some people here still prefer KISS to actual efficiency and elegance. As if it were something good.
        Idiocracy here we come, indeed...

      • by gangien (151940)

        It's a shame that people don't understand what? that they have a choice of a browser? and that all those choices, are for the most part almost identical?

        Seriously, it's not a shame, it's people choosing what they do or don't invest their time in.

        • by cosm (1072588)
          If I choose not to invest my time in automotive research, should I have the government come down and force the largest automobile manufacturer to hand out a 'these are your automotive options' because I am unwilling to do the research?
          • by gangien (151940)

            umm no. what's your point? i don't think the government should have any say in the browsers.

            • by cosm (1072588)
              Thats what I was implying, couldn't tell if you were. If people are unwilling to invest in research and it lends to their misfortune, then its their own damn fault and there should be no intervening body, read, no browser selection screen. The shame is that the majority doesn't understand that they have choice or don't care to look into it, and that because of that lack of knowledge, the Microsoft is forced to pay the price.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by lennier (44736)

            If I choose not to invest my time in automotive research, should I have the government come down and force the largest automobile manufacturer to hand out a 'these are your automotive options' because I am unwilling to do the research?

            Ooh, a car analogy! Let me play!

            If every car had incompatible steering wheels, engines you weren't allowed to look at or touch, took different manufacturer-specific brands of petrol, and the largest one came free (and was in fact mandatory - you couldn't get from the kitchen to the bathroom without using the car) with every house bought from the #1 house manufacturer, and came with a special set of patented wheels which could also drive down a special railway line owned by the same company, which was active

    • many people use Internet Explorer simply because they are unaware of alternatives.

      Did they want to be aware of alternatives? Or is this something where we are deciding they SHOULD be aware whether they want to be or not?

      Which does not sound very consumer-oriented.

      Why didn't the EU just force Microsoft to pass a certain set of standards with their browser or give users the choice? At least then they'd allow Microsoft to prevent the confusion by producing a quality product.

      In my experience, the general user would rather not have to deal with the browser thing. Most people that aren't co

    • by williamhb (758070)

      many people use Internet Explorer simply because they are unaware of alternatives.

      Correction: many people use Internet Explorer simply because they don't care about alternatives. Seriously, to you it might be a big deal whether you're using Firefox 3.0 or 3.5 or Chrome's latest beta... for most people out there it's just the logo you click to get through to Facebook.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Pence128 (1389345)
      I think you're overestimating the average user's aversion to reading.

      "Firefox? I think I saw that in a popup once. It was anoying, so I just clicked Internet. Stupid Microsoft"
  • Just a thought (Score:2, Interesting)

    by aldld (1663705)
    Just a thought, how many people would use Internet Explorer if it didn't come with Windows? (And assuming that they have some way to get it, through some other browser)
  • After all, most people I know that buy new computers and don't like IE only start up IE in order to download another browser. All this version really does is take one step out of the process. People who aren't as computer literate would probably already have a preference for IE anyway and just stick with it out of fear of the unknown. I doubt a lot of grannies who have used IE for the past 6 years are getting their new computer, looking at the browser selection screen, and saying "hmm. Maybe I should gi
  • EU (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Exception Duck (1524809) on Monday March 08, 2010 @10:09PM (#31409010) Homepage Journal

    kudos to the European union.

    this and reading they will oppose ACTA's 3strike rule makes me want to join

"Life, loathe it or ignore it, you can't like it." -- Marvin the paranoid android

Working...