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
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.
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.
Competing browsers have seen their traffic increase, suggesting that these smaller competing developers are gaining users.
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. This was later fixed by Microsoft.
The choice of browsers has also been criticised. 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. This has resulted in criticism amongst the web development community even though Microsoft was simply adhering to the court agreement's methodology.
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. 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. 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.
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. Microsoft responded by stating: "We (Microsoft) do not plan on making any changes at this time."
- European Union Microsoft competition case
- United States v. Microsoft
- Criticism of Microsoft
- Microsoft litigation
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