Microsoft Changes their Browser Ballot Screen—Again.


The tech news is abuzz this week because Microsoft agreed to make another change to their “Browser Ballot Screen” in the European Union again (in hopes to accommodate complaints by a rival browser maker).  The complaint was that by putting the browsers in Alphabetical order (which would make sense to any normal human being, IMHO), it favors Apple’s Safari Browser over everyone else.  This from the same people who initially complained that having Internet Explorer first favored the default browser over all of them.

So, Microsoft agreed to generate the ballot screen randomly, and remove the Internet Explorer icon from the top-left corner of the window.  If this is acceptable, then people who have Internet Explorer set as their default browser will receive this via Automatic Updates in the future.

I have some opinions about this….

1.  Is this the end of the whole quibble?  I don’t think so. Personally, I think that one of the other browser makers (probably Opera, since they are the ones who seem to be screaming the loudest) will run the ballot screen a few hundred or thousand times, and count how many times each of their rivals shows up first.  Then they’ll complain that it’s skewed towards their rival (if it’s more than they show up).

2.  Is this even an idea that should be pursued at all?  Yes and no.  On the one hand, I do understand that it’s Microsoft’s operating system, so they should have a right to package their own browser with it.  Apple does with Safari.  Linux does with Konquerer and Mozilla.  Google’s Chrome OS will do it with Chrome.

On the other hand, I agree that the end-user should be offered a choice.  Most end-users aren’t even aware of other browsers.  Look at the video a few months ago from the US State Department, where Secretary Clinton said that they won’t use Firefox, because they would have to update it (it automatically updates).  She wasn’t even aware of Firefox—had to ask for clarification about what it was).  So, having the ballot screen is a good idea (if nothing else, to inform the users).

3.  In as much as I think the ballot screen is a good idea, it shouldn’t have come around because of a court mandate.  And Microsoft shouldn’t be the ONLY company (and Windows shouldn’t be the ONLY Operating system) which offers this.  Apple and Linux should have ballot screens offering the user a choice of browsers as well.  What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.  Also, I don’t think this should be limited to Europe.  I think that Microsoft, Apple, and the Linux distributors should put this in for every country.  WITHOUT A COURT MANDATE DIRECTING THEM.

4.  I also think that this should be an Automatic Update regardless of what browser is set up as your default.  I can tell you that I know people who have only heard of Internet Explorer and Firefox.  They haven’t even heard of Opera, Safari, or Chrome.  And if they have, it was in passing.  Oops, the makers of Opera may read this and push that it be given out to anyone who has Internet Explorer or Firefox as their defaults now…

Let me know what your opinions are on this whole deal.  Do you feel that it should have even happened?  Do you think that it’s going to be resolved with this current plan for the screen?  Do you feel that it should be done on all operating systems, or just Windows?  Would a ballot screen influence your choice at all?

Have a great day:)
Patrick.

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