Web Browser Ballot Box
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 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.[1] 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.[2] As of December 2018, the site is still offline.

Web browser choice screen

The web browser choice screen, also known as the web browser ballot box, was a screen displayed in Internet Explorer that offered ten to twelve browsers in a random order.[3]

The screen was presented only to Windows users whose default web browser is Internet Explorer. It affected the European Economic Area,[4]Croatia and Switzerland.[5]

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.[6]

Browsers listed

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.

Revisions

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.[7][8]

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.[9]

In February 2012 Microsoft increased the number of second tier browsers to seven: Comodo Dragon and Rockmelt were added, while Sleipnir was removed again.[10]

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.[11]

In February 2013 Microsoft removed SlimBrowser from the second tier and replaced it with Sleipnir.[12]

In May 2013 Microsoft removed Rockmelt from the second tier.[13]

By May 2014 Microsoft had removed Comodo Dragon from the second tier.[14]

In September 2014 Comodo was returned to the second tier, replacing Avant Browser.[15]

In December 2014 the website was discontinued and no longer lists any browsers.[1][2]

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]
May 2014 Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Maxthon Avant Browser, K-Meleon, Lunascape, SRWare Iron, Sleipnir [8]
September 2014 Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Maxthon K-Meleon, Lunascape, SRWare Iron, Comodo Dragon, Sleipnir [9]

Results

Competing browsers saw their traffic increase,[16] 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.[1]

Criticism

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.[17][18] This was later fixed by Microsoft.[19]

The choice of browsers was also criticised.[20] 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.[20] This has resulted in criticism amongst the web development community even though Microsoft was adhering to the court agreement's methodology.[20]

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.[21] 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.[22]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.[23][24]

Petition

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.[25] Microsoft responded by stating: "We (Microsoft) do not plan on making any changes at this time."[26]

See also

References

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

External links


  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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