BrowserChoice.eu

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Screenshot of browser choice screen initially showing five leading browsers in a random order. The user can scroll across the page to reveal some more possible browsers in another random order.

BrowserChoice.eu is a website that was created in March 2010 as the result of the decision in the European Union Microsoft competition case. The case involved legal proceedings by the EU against Microsoft and found that, by including Internet Explorer (IE) with their market-dominant Windows operating system, Microsoft had used their dominance of the operating system market to also create a dominant market position in the web browser market. The BrowserChoice.eu website was created by Microsoft to allow users that had not made, or were unaware of, a choice to try other browsers, and thus comply with the European Commission's ruling.

Web browser choice screen[edit]

The web browser choice screen, also known as the web browser ballot box, is a screen displayed in Internet Explorer that offers eleven browsers in a random order.[1]

The screen is presented only to Windows users whose default web browser is Internet Explorer. It currently affects only the European Economic Area,[2] Croatia and Switzerland.[3]

A patch was made available via Windows Update to provide the screen to users. It was displayed to anyone who had not chosen another browser as their default browser.[4]

Browsers listed[edit]

The browser choice screen lists 11 browsers in random order; the top tier of five are immediately visible and the remaining six can be seen by scrolling the list. The order of the browsers on the page was initially planned to be alphabetical, however after criticism a random system is now used with two groups.

The first group includes the five most used browsers ‒ Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera and Maxthon ‒ representing the four major rendering engines (Trident, Gecko, Blink and WebKit). The second group contains six less well-known browsers, also in random order: Avant Browser, Comodo Dragon, K-Meleon, Lunascape, SRWare Iron and Sleipnir.

Revisions[edit]

The initial March 2010 list had Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari in the first tier, with Avant Browser, Flock, GreenBrowser, K-Meleon, Maxthon, Sleipnir and SlimBrowser in the second tier.

In August 2010 Microsoft removed GreenBrowser and Sleipnir from the choices, replacing them with Lunascape and SRWare Iron.[5][6]

In November 2011 Microsoft reduced the number of second tier browsers from the previous seven to six. They removed Flock and SlimBrowser, but re-established Sleipnir.[7]

In February 2012 Microsoft increased the number of second tier browsers to seven: Comodo Dragon and Rockmelt were added, while Sleipnir was removed again.[8]

In August 2012 Microsoft removed Apple Safari from the first tier and replaced it with Maxthon. SlimBrowser was added back to the second tier.[9]

In February 2013 Microsoft removed SlimBrowser from the second tier and replaced it with Sleipnir.[10]

In May 2013 Microsoft removed Rockmelt from the second tier.[11]

A look to the site in March 2014 shows that only 10 browsers remain.[12]

Revisions of BrowserChoice.eu
Date First Tier Second Tier Archived Page
March 2010 Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari Avant Browser, Flock, GreenBrowser, K-Meleon, Maxthon, Sleipnir, SlimBrowser [1]
August 2010 Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari Avant Browser, Flock, K-Meleon, Maxthon, SlimBrowser, Lunascape, SRWare Iron [2]
November 2011 Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari Avant Browser, K-Meleon, Maxthon, Lunascape, SRWare Iron, Sleipnir [3]
February 2012 Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari Avant Browser, K-Meleon, Maxthon, Lunascape, SRWare Iron, Comodo Dragon, Rockmelt [4]
August 2012 Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Maxthon Avant Browser, K-Meleon, Lunascape, SRWare Iron, Comodo Dragon, Rockmelt, SlimBrowser [5]
February 2013 Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Maxthon Avant Browser, K-Meleon, Lunascape, SRWare Iron, Comodo Dragon, Rockmelt, Sleipnir [6]
May 2013 Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Maxthon Avant Browser, K-Meleon, Lunascape, SRWare Iron, Comodo Dragon, Sleipnir [7]
March 2014 Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Maxthon Avant Browser, K-Meleon, Lunascape, SRWare Iron, Sleipnir [8]

Results[edit]

Competing browsers have seen their traffic increase,[13] suggesting that these smaller competing developers are gaining users.

Criticism[edit]

The source code of the page itself has come under criticism. The order of the browsers on screen was at first insufficiently random, which led to uneven distribution.[14][15] This was later fixed by Microsoft.[16]

The choice of browsers has also been criticised.[17] At the time of its inception, half of the suggested browsers use Internet Explorer's Trident rendering engine, thus users who choose web browsers other than Internet Explorer for the intention of avoiding it might still end up using IE's layout engine.[17] This has resulted in criticism amongst the web development community even though Microsoft was adhering to the court agreement's methodology.[17]

Finally, the overall ability for users to access the site has been criticised. Opera Software complained that the ballot screen could not be reached in some cases because of the start configuration screens of IE.[18] In 2012 Microsoft had issues with both Windows 7 and Windows 8 no longer leading new users in the European Union to the page. The Windows 7 SP1 retail release was initially missing BrowserChoice.eu functionality, affecting 28 million computers. The error remained unpatched for 14 months, and as a result in March 2013 the European Commission fined Microsoft €561 million.[19] Windows 8 was also released without the browser choice screen functionality and patched several days after the release. Mozilla's general counsel estimated that 6-9 million downloads of Firefox web browser alone were lost due to the mistake.[20][21]

Petition[edit]

Makers of the second-tier browsers Flock, Avant, GreenBrowser, Maxthon, Sleipnir, and Slim sent a petition to the EU to get Microsoft to add text or a graphic (rather than just the slider) indicating that there are more than five browsers.[22] Microsoft responded by stating: "We (Microsoft) do not plan on making any changes at this time."[23]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Heiner, Dave (19 February 2010). "The Browser Choice Screen for Europe: What to Expect, When to Expect It". Microsoft. Retrieved 24 June 2011. 
  2. ^ "Microsoft Statement on European Commission Decision" (Press release). Microsoft. 16 December 2009. Retrieved 14 October 2012. 
  3. ^ "Browser Choice FAQ". Microsoft. Retrieved 2013-01-22. 
  4. ^ "Microsoft liefert Web-Browser-Auswahlfenster ab 17. März aus" (in German). heise online. 19 February 2010. Retrieved 14 October 2012. 
  5. ^ "Information Regarding Web Browsers". Archived from the original on 22 August 2010. Retrieved 14 October 2012. 
  6. ^ "Information Regarding Web Browsers". Archived from the original on 28 August 2010. Retrieved 14 October 2012. 
  7. ^ "Information Regarding Web Browsers". Archived from the original on 3 November 2011. Retrieved 6 February 2013. 
  8. ^ "Information Regarding Web Browsers". Archived from the original on 24 February 2012. Retrieved 6 February 2013. 
  9. ^ "Information Regarding Web Browsers". Archived from the original on 19 September 2012. Retrieved 6 February 2013. 
  10. ^ "Information Regarding Web Browsers". Archived from the original on 26 February 2013. Retrieved 28 February 2013. 
  11. ^ "Information Regarding Web Browsers". Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  12. ^ "Information Regarding Web Browsers". Retrieved 6 March 2014. 
  13. ^ Pfanner, Eric (7 March 2010). "Microsoft Gives Rival Browsers a Lift". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 March 2010. 
  14. ^ Wauters, Robin (22 February 2010). "How Random Is Microsoft's Random Browser Choice Screen In Europe?". TechCrunch. Retrieved 14 October 2012. 
  15. ^ Bright, Peter (2 March 2010). "Coding error leads to uneven EU browser ballot distribution". Ars Technica. Retrieved 14 October 2012. 
  16. ^ Metz, Cade (9 March 2010). "Microsoft rejiggers EU browser ballot after complaints". The Register. Retrieved 14 October 2012. 
  17. ^ a b c Ward, Mark (3 March 2010). "Microsoft browser ballot criticised for being 'limited'". BBC. Retrieved 14 October 2012. 
  18. ^ Clarke, Gavin (3 April 2010). "Opera alerts EU to hidden Windows browser-ballot". The Register. Retrieved 8 April 2010. 
  19. ^ "Microsoft fined by European Commission over web browser". BBC. 6 March 2013. Retrieved 6 March 2013. 
  20. ^ Whittaker, Zach (31 October 2012). "Firefox lost 6-9 million downloads in EU browser choice 'glitch'". ZDNet. Retrieved 6 February 2013. 
  21. ^ Warren, Tom (10 September 2012). "Windows 8 browser choice update now available in Europe". The Verge. Retrieved 6 February 2013. 
  22. ^ Petition To The European Commission[dead link]
  23. ^ Shankland, Stephen (5 March 2010). "Minor browsers seek more prominence in Europe". CNET. Retrieved 14 October 2012.