BrowserChoice.eu was a website created by Microsoft in March 2010 following a decision in the European Union Microsoft competition case. The case involved legal proceedings by the European Union against Microsoft and found that, by including Internet Explorer with their market-dominant Windows operating system, Microsoft had used this dominance to create a similar market position in the web browser market. The BrowserChoice.eu website was created 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.
However, Microsoft's obligation to display the Browser Choice screen to Windows users expired in December 2014. The BrowserChoice.eu website was discontinued as early as the next year, showing a notice advising users to "[visit] the websites of web browser vendors directly," before going offline completely. As of December 2018 , the site is still offline.
The browser choice screen listed 10 to 12 browsers in random order; the top tier of five were immediately visible and the remaining ones could be seen by scrolling the list. The order of the browsers on the page was initially planned to be alphabetical, but after criticism a random system was used with two groups.
The first group included the five most used browsers - Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, and initially Safari but later Maxthon - representing the four major rendering engines (Trident, Gecko, Blink and WebKit). The second group contained less well-known browsers, also in random order: at different times this group included Avant Browser, Comodo Dragon, Flock, GreenBrowser, K-Meleon, Lunascape, Maxthon, Rockmelt, SRWare Iron, Sleipnir, and SlimBrowser.
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 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.
In August 2012 Microsoft removed Apple Safari from the first tier due to the browser's discontinuation on Windows, and replaced it with Maxthon. SlimBrowser was added back to the second tier.
In February 2013 Microsoft removed SlimBrowser from the second tier and replaced it with Sleipnir.
In May 2013 Microsoft removed Rockmelt from the second tier.
By May 2014 Microsoft had removed Comodo Dragon from the second tier.
In September 2014 Comodo was returned to the second tier, replacing Avant Browser.
|Date||First Tier||Second Tier||Archived Page|
|March 2010||Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari||Avant Browser, Flock, GreenBrowser, K-Meleon, Maxthon, Sleipnir, SlimBrowser|||
|August 2010||Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari||Avant Browser, Flock, K-Meleon, Maxthon, SlimBrowser, Lunascape, SRWare Iron|||
|November 2011||Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari||Avant Browser, K-Meleon, Maxthon, Lunascape, SRWare Iron, Sleipnir|||
|February 2012||Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari||Avant Browser, K-Meleon, Maxthon, Lunascape, SRWare Iron, Comodo Dragon, Rockmelt|||
|August 2012||Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Maxthon||Avant Browser, K-Meleon, Lunascape, SRWare Iron, Comodo Dragon, Rockmelt, SlimBrowser|||
|February 2013||Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Maxthon||Avant Browser, K-Meleon, Lunascape, SRWare Iron, Comodo Dragon, Rockmelt, Sleipnir|||
|May 2013||Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Maxthon||Avant Browser, K-Meleon, Lunascape, SRWare Iron, Comodo Dragon, Sleipnir|||
|May 2014||Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Maxthon||Avant Browser, K-Meleon, Lunascape, SRWare Iron, Sleipnir|||
|September 2014||Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Maxthon||K-Meleon, Lunascape, SRWare Iron, Comodo Dragon, Sleipnir|||
Competing browsers saw their traffic increase, suggesting that these smaller competing developers were gaining users. However, long-term trends show browsers such as Opera and Firefox losing market share in Europe, calling into question the usefulness of the browser choice screen.
The source code of the page itself came 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 was also criticised. 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. This has resulted in criticism amongst the web development community even though Microsoft was adhering to the court agreement's methodology.
Finally, the overall ability for users to access the site was 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 EUR561 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."
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