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Details Emerge On EU-Only "Browser Choice" Screen For Windows 220

Simmeh writes "Microsoft have posted screenshots and details on their upcoming 'web browser choice screen.' Requirements include being in Europe, and having Internet Explorer set as your default browser. It comes with a few surprises, as the software automatically unpins Internet Explorer from your taskbar, and offers 11 alternative browsers."
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Details Emerge On EU-Only "Browser Choice" Screen For Windows

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  • Post-ballot data (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RightSaidFred99 ( 874576 ) on Friday February 19, 2010 @06:58PM (#31205556)
    Be interesting to see if this has any effect on browser usage statistics. Would be hilariously funny if IE actually gains traction. I doubt it though, I don't think IE8 is bad at all but even I use Firefox.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Based on the recent bad press that IE has had...I really doubt it'll gain anything. To be fair though the people that see this and then haven't already made a browser choice probably haven't seen many recent press releases about browsers. I'm guessing they'll go with the (probably well presented) Microsoft option..
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Seems to present IE completely equitably with the other browsers. They show in random order with similar sized logos and all. In the Gizmodo screen shot, Google Chrome is first, followed by Firefox, then Safari, IE, and Opera. http://gizmodo.com/5475490/microsofts-impartial-antitrust+friendly-browser-ballot-screen [gizmodo.com]. Doesn't seem like a slam dunk at all that people would choose IE from this.
        • Bear in mind it only shows IE8 equitably. Even Microsoft would prefer to see people upgrade off IE6 or IE7. That's pretty big in and of itself, no? (ok, for security concerns obviously it's a great idea, but to pretty well force everyone to take notice that they should be running something other than IE6 or IE7 ...)

          • Bear in mind it only shows IE8 equitably. Even Microsoft would prefer to see people upgrade off IE6 or IE7. That's pretty big in and of itself, no? (ok, for security concerns obviously it's a great idea, but to pretty well force everyone to take notice that they should be running something other than IE6 or IE7 ...)

            This ballot screen is for Windows 7, and neither IE6 nor IE7 have ever been available for this OS.

        • by keeboo ( 724305 )

          Seems to present IE completely equitably with the other browsers. They show in random order with similar sized logos and all (...)

          I'm impressed.

          I was expecting Microsoft to manage to fool the European Comission presenting a "technically correct" solution which, somehow, still favoured Internet Explorer.
          That's really weird. There must be a loophole in all this.

          • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

            by TheLink ( 130905 )
            Microsoft would be very stupid to do that.

            The EC will just find a way to smack them even harder. They could get a bunch of independent or "independent" experts to give their opinion on whether the "technically correct" solution favoured IE or not, and present their conclusions.

            Microsoft can get away with lots of stuff in the USA, but they're not considered an EU company like say Airbus.

            If they hadn't already found Microsoft guilty then Microsoft could use technicalities and debate interpretations of laws to
            • Re:Post-ballot data (Score:5, Informative)

              by moronoxyd ( 1000371 ) on Saturday February 20, 2010 @05:33AM (#31208852)

              Those Governments are unlikely to lose votes or support when they crush you (a foreigner) for misbehaving despite you trying to use some loophole.

              Why do Americans think that the EU is only crushing American companies?
              They apply the rules equaly to European companies as well.
              Last year a German and a French energy company where fined half a billion Euros each for violating antitrust laws: http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/09/1099 [europa.eu]

              • by B2382F29 ( 742174 ) on Saturday February 20, 2010 @06:45AM (#31209060)

                Why do Americans think that the EU is only crushing American companies?

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Projection_(psychology) [wikipedia.org]

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by Spatial ( 1235392 )
                  There are other reasons. In America, corporate fines happening in other countries are not generally reported in the news unless the fines are being applied to an American company. To the casual observer it creates the illusion that only those companies are being fined.

                  In short, be aware of just how insular the news is, or you will be severely mislead.
              • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                by Anonymous Coward

                Why do Americans think that the EU is only crushing American companies?

                Because America is built upon paranoia. Their government has convinced its people that everyone is against them and they must do everything to protect their paranoid delusions and self containment.

        • by Patik ( 584959 ) <cpatik@gmailUUU.com minus threevowels> on Saturday February 20, 2010 @12:18AM (#31207726) Homepage Journal
          Except that most people think that blue E is literally "the internet", while the other logos (besides Google's name) will be somewhat alien to them.
          • by xaxa ( 988988 )

            Except that most people think that blue E is literally "the internet", while the other logos (besides Google's name) will be somewhat alien to them.

            Perhaps this explains the timing of Google's massive advertising campaign for Chrome in the UK. Many busy London Underground stations have a massive advert for Chrome on the platform, they advertised on the entire front page [techcrunch.com] of the UK's largest free newspaper, and have outdoor adverts [bedroompublishing.com]. as well as banners on general websites (newspapers etc).

        • I wonder how many people will choose Chrome because they do not know the difference between a browser and a search engine?

          Seriously, as 10 random non-geeks what web browser they use.

      • If the other browsers aren't well-presented, that's their own fault. All the copy/images was submitted by the browser team, it wasn't created by Microsoft.

    • IE8 is a baby step in the right direction, but it still exhibits some non-compliant CSS behaviors that FF, WebKit and Opera get right, and still requires some hacks. Not major stuff like in IE6 and 7, but still, annoying shit that shouldn't be there.

      One that I ran across recently are random double margins in certain situations. I could not find a pattern, and had to use padding instead of margins... luckily in this case that wasn't a problem.

    • Actually I'm willing to bet that IE does gain share over this. Think about it, is a user that is so clueless that they need a "help me!" screen just to install a browser, gonna go with anything they haven't heard of? Hell they don't know squat, so they will go with what looks familiar, and that is the big blue E. They won't know what its called, but they will recognize that the big blue e was what they had last time, so that is what they will go for.

      Personally I'll be more curious to see what happens when

  • /.'d already? (Score:3, Informative)

    by drachenstern ( 160456 ) <drachenstern@gmail.com> on Friday February 19, 2010 @06:59PM (#31205568) Journal

    The link isn't working, taking way too long... did we really /.-effect a Microsoft server? Too funny. Although, it's most likely not on the main Microsoft cloud.

  • 11 browsers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19, 2010 @06:59PM (#31205570)

    11 browsers? how many of them have >1%market penetration? This is going to confuse the less versed users and I bet one ballmer's chair this is intentional, divide et impera

    • 11 has been long known in this space. The above comment is a nonquestion.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by dave562 ( 969951 )

        I challenge you to name the top 11 browsers off the top of your head without searching for them. Go. 11 browsers. Other users of "this space" are waiting.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, K-Meleon, Konqueror, SeaMonkey, IceWeasel, and that's about all I can name.

          Of course, IceWeasel and SeaMonkey are forks of Firefox I guess. On the whole, I agree with the GP - offering 11 browsers is ridiculous. Unfortunately, that was probably the only way to be "fair" to everyone... except the end user.

          I would have rather had the EU tell Microsoft "You can keep your browser but you have to get it up to current standards." THAT would have accomplished s

          • by dave562 ( 969951 )

            You did much better than I could. I know Firefox and IE because those are the two browsers that I can manage via GPO on my network. I know Safari because that is the default OSX browser that some people in the design department use. Beyond that I know about Opera and Opera-Mini through friends and because O-Mini is what I use on my Blackberry. Do SeaMonkey and IceWeasel even work on Windows? I only hear Linux users talking about those. Of course there is Chrome. It's pretty much impossible to not kno

            • Well, I used K-Meleon and Konqueror on Linux. There's the Gnome one but I forgot what that is.

              I don't know if seamonkey and icweweasel have Windows builds. I actually preferred it to Firefox on slower boxes that I installed with Linux... they both actually worked fairly well.

              Opera is actually kinda nifty, but I still prefer Chrome at the moment :)

              • Iceweasel is a strictly Debian fork, Seamonkey is the good old Mozilla browser and it was always multiplatform.

                • by keeboo ( 724305 )

                  Iceweasel is a strictly Debian fork, Seamonkey is the good old Mozilla browser and it was always multiplatform.

                  I'm not sure Iceweasel could be even called a fork from Firefox (in the usual sense at least).
                  Here [wikipedia.org] you may read about.

                  • I know about the rebranding issue but since there are were also some source code modifications to fit Debian better (and not just different icons), you can safely call it a fork.

          • SeaMonkey is not a fork of Firefox, it's the old Mozilla suite evolved.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          http://community.winsupersite.com/blogs/paul/archive/2009/07/28/browser-ballot-screen-isn-t-just-for-windows-7.aspx [winsupersite.com]

          who has time to do that? I'll just point to something that's more than 6 months old (albeit this one mentions just 10, other sources shortly thereafter were mentioning 11 or more such as
          http://yro.slashdot.org/story/09/12/18/0210240/How-Europes-Mandated-Browser-Ballot-Screen-Works [slashdot.org]
          http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9142416/FAQ_How_the_IE_ballot_screen_works [computerworld.com]
          which listed:

          The first five are Ap

      • 11 has been long known in this space.

        In base-4 maybe...

        Before today they've only ever mentioned five browsers. The first link won't load for me, but from the second link...

        Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera are the alternative browsers that people will be offered.

        Not among the alternative browsers, the alternative browsers. Meaning those four, plus IE, and no more.

    • Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Opera, AOL, Maxthon, K-Meleon, Flock, Avant Browser, Sleipnir and Slim Browser.

      Ah yes, AOL... good thing that's an option! Much better than IE.

      I've heard of Avant and Flock. I've never heard of Maxthon, Sleipnir, or Slim Browser. I've used Avant and disliked it.

      This seems remarkably ... pointless, as someone else said.

    • by guyminuslife ( 1349809 ) on Friday February 19, 2010 @10:01PM (#31206976)

      We are offering a choice of 11 different web browsers with new versions of Microsoft Windows, including:

      Microsoft Browsers:
      Internet Explorer 6
      Internet Explorer 7
      Internet Explorer 8

      Non-Microsoft Browsers:
      Safari (Macintosh only)
      Netscape Navigator 4.08
      Image Xplorer
      The browser from the online tutorial code for beginning KDE programming

      WARNING: If you choose any of the non-Microsoft browsers in the above list, please be aware that they are THIRD PARTY applications that are UNSUPPORTED by Microsoft Corp. Microsoft makes no guarantees as to the functionality or features of any non-Microsoft browser, and disclaims any responsibility for viruses or other malware that unsupported browsers may or may not contain.

    • Re:11 browsers (Score:5, Informative)

      by Shimbo ( 100005 ) on Saturday February 20, 2010 @05:59AM (#31208924)

      11 browsers? how many of them have >1%market penetration? This is going to confuse the less versed users

      Well they say 11 but it's 5 + 6 really. That is, they are randomly placed but in two groups - the big 5: IE, Chrome, Safari, Opera, Firefox are the only ones visible without scrolling. Most people aren't going to look at the 'below the fold" browsers.

  • Mirror.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by ZiakII ( 829432 ) on Friday February 19, 2010 @07:00PM (#31205578)
    The site with the picture did not load for me, I found the image on The Register with story listed here. [theregister.co.uk]
  • by Hasney ( 980180 ) on Friday February 19, 2010 @07:02PM (#31205610) Journal
    I honestly didn't know there were that many constantly update, up-to-spec browsers for Windows.

    Please God don't let any of them be Netscape.
    • by Nadaka ( 224565 ) on Friday February 19, 2010 @07:05PM (#31205652)

      Please God, let one of them be a telnet terminal.

      • By default, Windows 7 does not have a Telnet client installed. I found this out when attempting to troubleshoot SMTP for a mail server. It can be enabled if you don't want to bother with PuTTY.

        To enable it go through Start --> Control Panel --> Programs --> Programs and Features --> Turn Windows features on or off -- Telnet Client.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I honestly didn't know there were that many constantly update, up-to-spec browsers for Windows.

      See? That's the benefit of having a totally professional system with an ultra-stable, totally dependable and unchanging set of system DLLs, so the programmers can totally concentrate on the specs of their browsers.

    • One of them better be LYNX.

  • by dave562 ( 969951 ) on Friday February 19, 2010 @07:10PM (#31205694) Journal

    Microsoft agreed to use Windows Update to provide a browser choice screen to Windows users in Europe who are running Internet Explorer as their default browser.

    Who wants to bet we are going to see posts here after this feature is rolled out from users who don't have IE configured as their default browser? They will be complaining about not being presented with a choice of alternate browsers, even though they have already selected one.

    Furthermore, the article states that the top browsers (Firefox, Opera, Chrome, IE) are going to be presented in random order. I can't wait for the whines from people who happen to see IE as the random first choice.

    Here, I'll come up with one for you guys.

    "Whaaaa!! IE was first on the SO CALLED RANDOM browser choice list. Obviously Microsoft weighted their algorithm to give preference to IE. My mom and third cousin also both had IE show up first. It's a conspiracy!"

  • Pointless (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sir_Sri ( 199544 ) on Friday February 19, 2010 @07:11PM (#31205706)

    Lovely, so now a bunch of tech savvy people are going to be getting calls asking how to make these screens go away and never come back.

    Users don't want choice, they don't want complexity, menus are complexity. Even that stupid setup menu on IE when you first install it scares the hell out of people and they just have to keep clicking 'not right now' or whatever it is EVERY time they start the application because they don't know how to make it go away. They want shit that does its thing that they don't have to think about and for whatever they're doing IE already does that. If you have enough know how to not use IE already, you don't. If you don't have the know how sticking some other choice for you there is just going to break stuff and confuse people. I feel bad for people who will accidentally choose google chrome or safari and then not have a clue how to use it, and not have a clue how to immediately revert the system to what they did have that let them do whatever they were doing.

    Not a bad concept in the 'when it's installed' sense, and on purely legal basis it makes sense, but it's not the sort of thing you want to be pushing out to live OS's that people are actually using right now. Even then putting anything other than IE8 on tends to be risky, everything is designed to work in IE, less so with firefox and way less so with any other choice, that's going to hobble people who suddenly have a new browser and no idea how to make it work.

    • Personally I think MS should have completely removed the browser from the operating system and not used this system. If for no other reason than to comply with the regulation while giving the other browser manufacturers a big middle finger. They could have left it up to the hardware manufacturers to put a browser of their choice on it. Considering the amount of other crap that they usually put on PCs it probably won't be a big deal. Then MS could just pay them to include IE as the default.
      • Personally I think MS should have completely removed the browser from the operating system and not used this system.

        They tried that - although probably as a bluff - and the EU denied MS that approach.

        • Yes. You must force people to choose between the one we force you to install and therefore support, and others we force you to make available to the user. While I know this is because they are "a convicted monopolist" it doesn't necessarily make it right. You know, the old two wrongs thing.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mr_lizard13 ( 882373 )

      everything is designed to work in IE, less so with firefox and way less so with any other choice

      Whilst I think that's not really the case these days (5 years ago perhaps), I really can't see how people will find a browser like Firefox, Chrome, Safari etc any more difficult to use than IE.

      They all have navigation buttons, some sort of address/search bar, tabs, etc etc.

      They all work very well. They all work with all the important plugins. And they all look and function more or less the same.

      Some would argue that they function better than the leading browser, too.

      I understand what you mean

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Sir_Sri ( 199544 )

        They all work very well... for people who know what address bars and tabs are.

        Seriously, you're setting the bar way higher than the average user.

        Plugins? What's a plugin? Why is this asking me to download something? How do I install something? Ever tried to install flash in firefox? You have to download and run an executable, it terrifies people, they don't know if the site they're getting it from might be hacked, the usually don't know how to find the file they've downloaded to run it. If it doesn't j

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by headbulb ( 534102 )

      While I agree that Microsoft's IE is bloated and shouldn't show that dialog on start. I strongly disagree that somehow users that chose another browser like Chrome or safari will be confused. Those two alternative options are much easier for a user then the default IE.

    • Meh, I'm just waiting for the first malicious website popup that looks *exactly* like the browser choice screen to appear.

      You're using IE8, visit a website, all of a sudden a window pops up asking you if you want to install a different browser. Download and instant box pwnage.

      You think Granny is going to know the difference, especially after her grandson explained "this is normal, and lets you choose other things to use" ?

      Congrats EU, you've done a fine job in making people trust popups and increasing the b

  • by rarel ( 697734 ) on Friday February 19, 2010 @07:45PM (#31206066) Homepage


    Princess Peach




    Donkey Kong


    ooooh, browsers... ok, nevermind!

  • by dalhamir ( 1423303 ) on Friday February 19, 2010 @07:51PM (#31206136)

    There's a decent amount of research (although, somewhat controversial) suggesting that providing too many choices may actually impede our ability to make rational choices, and would be less likely to experiment with an unfamiliar browser. Overview of some of the research can be found on the Freakonomics blog: http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/02/is-the-paradox-of-choice-not-so-paradoxical-after-all/ [nytimes.com]

    • Irrelevent (Score:5, Informative)

      by pavon ( 30274 ) on Friday February 19, 2010 @09:02PM (#31206652)

      The 5 most popular are shown when the window first opens (in random order), you have to scroll over to see the rest. Furthermore, it can't be an evil scheme by Microsoft as it wasn't their choice - the idea, the criteria for browser selection, and the ordering of the browsers were forced on them by the EU

  • The link (Score:5, Informative)

    by ivonic ( 972040 ) on Friday February 19, 2010 @07:52PM (#31206148) Homepage
    You could just visit the browser ballot page directly [browserchoice.eu].

    For reference, the browsers listed are IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, Flock, FlashPeak, K-Meleon, Avant, Maxthon, Sleipnir & GreenBrowser
  • 11 browsers? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jc42 ( 318812 ) on Friday February 19, 2010 @08:13PM (#31206312) Homepage Journal

    My first thought was "Can I tell it to load all 11 of them?" If so, it could make the Windows box useful for real web testing.

    I do most of my actual testing on my Macbook Pro, because I have 9 browsers installed there. I also have a linux box with 5 browsers installed. My wife has a Windows XP partition on her iMac that has 3 browsers. For most of these, we had to download them and install them ourselves. A working package of 11 browsers could be really handy, especially when it comes time to reformat and reinstall, which happens quite often with "lab" testing machines.

    Anyone know if MS's browser installer has an "All of them" choice?

    • The point of the selection screen is not to provide a lab-testing box - it's to fulfill a requirement by the EU that they offer alternative browsers to non-professional consumers.

  • by rlp ( 11898 ) on Friday February 19, 2010 @08:52PM (#31206578)

    So where's Lynx?

  • by crispi ( 131688 ) on Friday February 19, 2010 @11:34PM (#31207482)

    random my ass!

    only appears to be random if you have javascript working (thanks noscript!) - Otherwise IE8 appears first on the list, on the left.

    • by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Saturday February 20, 2010 @02:49AM (#31208350) Journal
      If you already have javascript disabled (partially or totally) and can actually see that page then:

      a) You have already chosen a non-IE browser
      b) You have javascript disabled and you know what you are doing (and have as many different browsers as you want)
      c) The organization that provided you the computer system has already chosen the browser for you.
      d) The organization that provided you the computer system has disabled javascript and you're not supposed to enable it, much less change the browser.
      e) You're using the wrong computer - go use your own PC.
      f) You're some really fringe corner case.
    • Why use server cycles for an effectively static page? That site is probably going to see a lot of load, running even a simple PHP (or ASP.NET, it being MS) web application seems like a lot more overhead than some static HTML page with an embedded script that uses the client to do the work.

  • ...people who confuse “the Internet” with “the web”.

    Not like I'd expect Microsoft and their Internet Explorer (which has always targeted web browsing, barely supports FTP, and doesn't support anything else beyond handing it off to a helper program) to know the difference...

          --- Mr. DOS

  • is Apple required to do something similar, to offer an alternative to Safari?

    • Re:Apple choice? (Score:4, Informative)

      by DavidRawling ( 864446 ) on Saturday February 20, 2010 @05:12AM (#31208772)
      No, because Apple is not a monopolist in that space. The fact that they force a browser on the device they sell (Safari) and didn't permit others, for a long time (has anyone seen competing browsers in the app store?) is completely different from Microsoft shipping their browser as part of the OS and the default browser, and permitting the user to install new browsers for the past 14 years.
  • The question is where does the manufacturer's choice stop and where does the customer's choice start. But there are many more examples which clearly don't have a technical justification:

    • OEM deals, pre-installed Windows Vista on a PC (without installation media, with backup partitions taking up the whole hard disk)
    • Microsoft site-license and campus-license
    • Pre-installed MacOS on Apple computers
    • Contract phones (and netbooks), SIM-locks
    • Apple iTunes tying music and books to a certain device
    • Microsoft XBox and Wind
  • by netsharc ( 195805 ) on Saturday February 20, 2010 @05:17PM (#31213144)

    I just noticed the URL in the screenshot: www.browserchoice.eu [browserchoice.eu], and the site is already online!

    On the first load, it gave me the choices in the order similar to the screenshot, interestingly enough.

Intel CPUs are not defective, they just act that way. -- Henry Spencer