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Microsoft Changes Browser Ballot to Appease EU

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 47 comments

Who's on first?

Microsoft's been through an Olympic-sized pool of hot water for its bundling of Internet Explorer in with Windows.

In its efforts to appease the powers that be in the European Commission, Microsoft agreed to a browser ballot that would have users select which browser he or she would like to install in his or her system. But competitors such as Mozilla didn't like that Microsoft could place Internet Explorer as the first choice (reading from left to right) as well as display the ballot screen inside an Internet Explorer window.

Now, according to Computerworld, Microsoft is being pressured to change the ballot  screen in order to give more even footing to all other browser choices. The major change includes a randomization of the order in which the browsers line up and that the ballot won't be appearing inside an IE8 window.

Such measures may be approved by European Union antitrust regulators as early as December 15.

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  • 31 Hide
    Abrahm , December 9, 2009 12:43 PM
    This is really one of the dumbest things I have ever seen. Every single version of Windows I have owned has come with IE, that hasn't once stopped me from getting and using FireFox. Why is it that it's no issue for Apple to bundle Safari with OSX, or Ubuntu to bundle FireFox, but it's not fair for Microsoft to bundle IE? Something isn't right here.

    It's a shame that Microsoft is forced to put up with this crap.
  • 20 Hide
    Anonymous , December 9, 2009 1:31 PM
    I have an idea. If you don't like IE being coupled with Windows, maybe you could stop using Windows...
  • 16 Hide
    Abrahm , December 9, 2009 1:44 PM
    jimanjr@AbrahamEven though every version of windows had IE bundled and didn't stop YOU, it did stop a huge share of users that are unaware of what a browser even means. They want "internet" and seeing "Internet Explorer" is the closest thing to that and they click it. That's how things go for them.Now, (and answering to your second question here as well) IE has been a pain for web developers since the beginnings of time since unlike the other major browsers, it's not compliant to the web standards. This means web developers need a version of a website for "standard browsers" and one for "IE". That translates in double the work needed.Safari on the other hand (as far as I know) fully compliant to the web standards, just like Chrome. Firefox is 96% or so compliant.

    None of that is really relevant to my point though. So what if users think IE is the internet and don't know what a browser is. People like that probably don't care about alternative browsers anyways. Being standards compliant is, again, completely irrelevant to this issue as that isn't why the EU is doing this.

    This is a slippery slope. What's next? Windows Firewall must be removed or other companies firewalls must be included? We should remove Notepad and Paint also, that isn't fair to other companies.

    Again, how is it unfair to other companies that MS bundles IE with Windows, but it's completely fair for OS X to come with Safari and Ubuntu with FireFox? The difference? Windows is much more popular than OS X ro Ubuntu, and the EU can squeeze more money out of MS.
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  • 31 Hide
    Abrahm , December 9, 2009 12:43 PM
    This is really one of the dumbest things I have ever seen. Every single version of Windows I have owned has come with IE, that hasn't once stopped me from getting and using FireFox. Why is it that it's no issue for Apple to bundle Safari with OSX, or Ubuntu to bundle FireFox, but it's not fair for Microsoft to bundle IE? Something isn't right here.

    It's a shame that Microsoft is forced to put up with this crap.
  • 11 Hide
    cknobman , December 9, 2009 12:54 PM
    Too bad microsoft just didnt pull the browser completely off the os and let the users have nothing with no way of downloading one either.

    Greedy union just wants money and once Microsoft complies here they will find another reason to fine so they can get more money. Then every competitor will take advantage of situation and jump on bandwagon calling for totally stupid bullsh!t things to take place(much like the one in this article).
  • 11 Hide
    Socnom , December 9, 2009 1:02 PM
    **Breaking News**

    This just in. The EU is going after Microsoft again stating, "Because Windows is the dominant OS, we will force Microsoft to incorporate a ballot of other OSs. It is only fair to the consumer if we make them do that." Umm.. bro, since when is one company responsible for the advertising/marketing of their competitor? Not to mention the amount of support tickets/calls Microsoft will get when one of those other Browsers crash.
    It seems Microsoft will not be killed by one single blow, but dismantled with one small punch after the other.

    This comment brought to you through Firefox.
  • 15 Hide
    rean24 , December 9, 2009 1:10 PM
    Next Target will be
    1) Windows Firewall .
    2) Windows Free Anti-Virus

    Anymore to be added to this list...
  • 0 Hide
    matt87_50 , December 9, 2009 1:26 PM
    yeah, thats pretty stupid that it appears inside an IE8 window.
  • 20 Hide
    Anonymous , December 9, 2009 1:31 PM
    I have an idea. If you don't like IE being coupled with Windows, maybe you could stop using Windows...
  • 7 Hide
    rtfm , December 9, 2009 1:37 PM
    Wish the EU would just F**k off. So much wasted litigation (I'm in the UK). Are they going after Apple for not giving a browser choice? Nooo? The EU stinks, this is not free trade.

    People of the various countries are being forced into this big (unelected) EU shit pile super state when all (most) people want is free trade and travel. Vote UKIP .

    /end of political rant
  • 11 Hide
    icepick314 , December 9, 2009 1:39 PM
    i would have pulled MS out of entire EU...loss profit be DAMMED!!!

    see how EU would survive without anything MS.....

    they probably can get away using Linux or Apple but it'll be one hell of change no one would want to go through.....
  • 16 Hide
    Abrahm , December 9, 2009 1:44 PM
    jimanjr@AbrahamEven though every version of windows had IE bundled and didn't stop YOU, it did stop a huge share of users that are unaware of what a browser even means. They want "internet" and seeing "Internet Explorer" is the closest thing to that and they click it. That's how things go for them.Now, (and answering to your second question here as well) IE has been a pain for web developers since the beginnings of time since unlike the other major browsers, it's not compliant to the web standards. This means web developers need a version of a website for "standard browsers" and one for "IE". That translates in double the work needed.Safari on the other hand (as far as I know) fully compliant to the web standards, just like Chrome. Firefox is 96% or so compliant.

    None of that is really relevant to my point though. So what if users think IE is the internet and don't know what a browser is. People like that probably don't care about alternative browsers anyways. Being standards compliant is, again, completely irrelevant to this issue as that isn't why the EU is doing this.

    This is a slippery slope. What's next? Windows Firewall must be removed or other companies firewalls must be included? We should remove Notepad and Paint also, that isn't fair to other companies.

    Again, how is it unfair to other companies that MS bundles IE with Windows, but it's completely fair for OS X to come with Safari and Ubuntu with FireFox? The difference? Windows is much more popular than OS X ro Ubuntu, and the EU can squeeze more money out of MS.
  • 4 Hide
    rtfm , December 9, 2009 1:56 PM
    rean24Next Target will be1) Windows Firewall .2) Windows Free Anti-Virus
    Anymore to be added to this list...


    Maybe when you install Win 7 it should offer you the option of installing linux instead?

  • 0 Hide
    audioee , December 9, 2009 2:05 PM
    Everyone on this site knows for a fact that this ballot screen will skew any usage statistics, which ever browser shows up at the left the most will be used the most. No one is going to read past the first one on the left that is installing or setting up a new machine. They want the machine to work right out of the box and anything standing in the way of a that is going to get partially of fully ignored. They first check box is going to get checked all the time by users that can care less about different browsers.
  • 4 Hide
    h0llow , December 9, 2009 2:17 PM
    WOW. I would just not sell them windows at all for acting like babies about such a small factor. I wouldn't care if it hurts sales or not. That's just ridiculous.
  • 2 Hide
    ssalim , December 9, 2009 2:17 PM
    It's because Apple's Safari is not popular, lol
    (but it is bunch of crap, EU thing, it's buncha crap).
  • 6 Hide
    nukem950 , December 9, 2009 2:38 PM
    IMO I think the EU are becoming control freaks. If Microsoft wants to include I.E. then I am all for it. Microsoft is a privately owned company. They are not doing anything to their operating system to stop other browsers from being installed. I really don't like the fact that I.E. is not really following web standards but that is their choice and that will change if web developers don't use the non-standard stuff in Internet explorer.

    Anyways, I use and love Firefox.

    Oh and now a conspiracy thought(get your tin foil hats out)... Why is the EU attacking the U.S. owned companies in major ways?
  • 2 Hide
    Duncan_Idah0 , December 9, 2009 3:06 PM
    The funny thing is that apparently this has come late to the Win 7 launch as there was no options... I guess once the EU is satisfied we'll be ready for win 8 :X
  • -9 Hide
    Yoder54 , December 9, 2009 3:29 PM
    Abrahm Why is it that it's no issue for Apple to bundle Safari with OSX, or Ubuntu to bundle FireFox, but it's not fair for Microsoft to bundle IE? Something isn't right here.It's a shame that Microsoft is forced to put up with this crap.


    I think it goes back to the early fights with Opera. MS went out of it's way to make sure the Opera didn't run on a Windows OS at one point. Opera sued and won. Opera still doesn't work all that well with Windows. Consequently, Opera has the ear of the EU and they want more of the market share.

    I don't understand why MS can't just say: "Hey, here is our OS and our browser. Take it or leave it." My money is that the European consumer would say..."we will take it." It is the EU that has a real bone to pick with MS...or almost any other American firm that dominates it's niche.
  • -9 Hide
    SAL-e , December 9, 2009 3:43 PM
    Abrahm... Why is it that it's no issue for Apple to bundle Safari with OSX, or Ubuntu to bundle FireFox, but it's not fair for Microsoft to bundle IE? Something isn't right here.It's a shame that Microsoft is forced to put up with this crap.


    I see your point of view. And you have valid argument about it. The problem with your reasoning is that it is based on misunderstanding between "bundling" and "pre-installing"

    Firefox and Safari are pre-installed only. They can be removed if anybody wishes to do.
    IE on other hand is bundled. It can NOT be removed from my system even if I wish to do so.
    Microsoft had 'good' reason for doing this. Here good it is good only for them and it is bad for everybody else. That is why they got in hot water with EU. They have done great deal of damage and they now are made to pay. It might look like harsh and unfair, but in reality they know very well it is very small price to pay. If they have been treated unfair they could continue the fight in the court, or if they believe that are prosecuted they could pull Windows of the EU market, but they don't. They know it is their best interest to settle this one.
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