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Microsoft's browser ballot, just released in Europe last month, has hurt its browser market share, say market researchers.
What helps Mozilla and Opera hurt Microsoft

Europe's over 200 million Windows computers will be getting an important update courtesy of Microsoft.  The update will give consumers the power to choose their default browser right out of the box -- something Microsoft never did before.  

Elsewhere, Windows starts with Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser loaded as the default browser.  You can change to another browser for your default, but only after you would have to personally go to the browser maker's page on the web and download the installer.  Many customers instead opt to simply stick with Internet Explorer.

Recent reports indicated that Microsoft's release of the ballot screen helped bump European market shares of third-party browsers like Mozilla's Firefox and the European-based Opera Software's titular browser.

New reports indicate that these gains came at Microsoft's expense.  Internet Explorer lost 2.5 percent marketshare in France, 1 percent in Britain, and 1.3 percent in Italy since February, according to the market research firm Statcounter.

Opera, on the other hand, says its downloads have doubled across Europe for the month and tripled in Italy, Spain and Poland.  The release of Opera 10.5 accounts for some of this boost, but the sheer number of new downloads is unusual and a sign that the ballot screen may be helping the third parties.  

Mozilla, the world's second largest browser maker, did not release a new browser, but did report gains of its own.  Describes a Mozilla spokesperson, "We have seen significant growth in the number of new Firefox users as a result of the Ballot Choice screen. We expect these numbers to increase as the Ballot Choice screen fully rolls out across all countries." 

Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Safari are featured on the ballot screen's first page, in addition to Internet Explorer.  Smaller browsers are also featured if you scroll over, but the small browser companies aren't satisfied with this.

States Flock, a small European browser maker, "To date, new downloads of Flock originating from the browser choice screen have only contributed marginally to growth in overall downloads. This is also the case for the other browsers not on the main screen."

Microsoft doesn't want to change the ballot screen, but the smaller browser makers are lobbying the EU to force it to make more changes.  Describes Flock, "We hope that the changes recommended in our urgent petition to the European Commission are implemented so that all the browsers that have been placed to the right of the main screen will have a reasonable chance of being found and considered by European consumers."

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Will US customers get a ballot screen?
By Xenokyn on 3/22/2010 2:09:58 PM , Rating: 2
I'd really like one. Wouldn't it save me the trouble of having to manually uninstall MSIE via the Windows 7 control panel? I already keep an up to date copy of Firefox's installer on a separate disk, but uninstalling MSIE is just one more annoying thing I have to configure that requires a reboot on a fresh Win7 install.

RE: Will US customers get a ballot screen?
By funkyd99 on 3/22/2010 2:30:32 PM , Rating: 5
Do you really think uninstalling MSIE does anything more than remove a few icons?

RE: Will US customers get a ballot screen?
By Xenokyn on 3/22/2010 2:33:14 PM , Rating: 1
Yes. Read my next post. It removes certain registry entries that allow IE to be associated with anything, and removes the actual iexplore.exe file. Same story with WMP.

RE: Will US customers get a ballot screen?
By funkyd99 on 3/22/2010 2:39:15 PM , Rating: 2
Just out of curiosity, what happens when you open Windows Explorer and type in a web address?

RE: Will US customers get a ballot screen?
By Xenokyn on 3/22/2010 2:42:54 PM , Rating: 5
Good question. WinXP and Vista would allow you to use this to get around the "uninstallation" of IE, because it would actually only remove icons, as you mentioned. But in Win7, typing in in the Explorer address bar opens the webpage in Firefox, or whatever your default browser is =).

RE: Will US customers get a ballot screen?
By Xenokyn on 3/22/2010 2:45:13 PM , Rating: 5
Oh, and assuming you have uninstalled IE8 and have not installed a browser at all, it will display an error message.

By funkyd99 on 3/22/2010 3:05:16 PM , Rating: 2
I stand corrected! Thanks for the info.

RE: Will US customers get a ballot screen?
By MrPoletski on 3/23/2010 7:11:17 AM , Rating: 2
I never had a ballot screen and typing a web address in an explorer bar changes the explorer window into a firefox one.

Plus I also deliberately havent removed ie in case I get a webpage that doesn't work in firefox, or just to get a 'second opinion' when a webpage isn't loading properly.

By MrPoletski on 3/23/2010 7:11:39 AM , Rating: 2
... Under vista SP2

RE: Will US customers get a ballot screen?
By omnicronx on 3/22/2010 3:03:45 PM , Rating: 4
You do realize installing any other browser will overwrite those reg entries right?

As the other poster said, you are basically removing a few icons.. Installing another browser and removing IE icons in the two places they exist would have basically the same effect. At that point the only way to access IE is to run the executable directly, but at least you can still fall back to IE if you have too.

I'm not an IE user, but I'm not about to make the case that other browsers can view all web content. Chrome in particular (which I use as my default) is incompatible with many webpages. (now that may not be the fault of Chrome, but devs coding with IE/another browser in mind, but that does not mean it is a non issue)

By Xenokyn on 3/23/2010 7:14:58 AM , Rating: 2
If I run Valve's Steam, and click on a link in steam, it will open IE no matter what other browser I have installed. There are a few other games and programs that use the Windows core HTML engine that will directly launch IE, even if you have set another browser as your default. Up until Win7, IE could still be launched even after it was turned off in the "Turn Windows features on or off" section in the control panel.

What I'm noticing is Win7, unlike Vista or XP, totally disables IE or WMP from being launched, even if another program tries to launch it. Unlike previous versions of Windows, Win7's revamped control panel totally shuts off any and all ability you or other programs have to launch the programs you disable. It not only changes all registry keys so that IE/WMP won't be launched by anything, but it deletes their actual .exe files as well, to make sure no program can force them to launch.

To me, this is a major step forward from XP/Vista's "just removing a few icons" method. They have come one step closer to completely separating default Windows software(WMP/IE) from the core OS functionality.

By Samus on 3/22/2010 6:04:31 PM , Rating: 3
Why are you uninstalling two fundemental windows resources to save 10MB of disk space?

American's don't need a ballot box. We're not tools. If somebody is so ignorant they need a ballot box to show them alternatives, chances are Internet Explorer would have done the job for them all along. This is an advertising product that has been wrongly pushed down Microsoft's throat to market their competitors products, because they're a big baddie.

This whole situation just goes to show how fucking broken our world is. What's next...

RE: Will US customers get a ballot screen?
By Xenokyn on 3/22/2010 2:31:26 PM , Rating: 1
To elaborate: By uninstall, I mean Control Panel>Programs and Features>Turn Windows features on or off>(uncheck IE8, WMP, etc). Even though this only uninstalls the executable files(not all of the program files, registry entries, etc.), it still allows me to use my own programs of choice without the hassle of files "accidentally" reverting to being associated with the Windows defaults.

This single addition to the control panel is my favorite improvement to Win7 from previous versions. The only thing I would like more is an option to install Windows without those programs even existing on the default installation.

RE: Will US customers get a ballot screen?
By diego10arg on 3/22/2010 3:41:18 PM , Rating: 4
Totally unnecesary, in my opinion.
Just don't start IE and that will work.

Set your Chrome/FF/Whatever as your default web browser and that's it.

RE: Will US customers get a ballot screen?
By Xenokyn on 3/22/10, Rating: 0
RE: Will US customers get a ballot screen?
By Xenokyn on 3/22/2010 8:58:20 PM , Rating: 2
fix="if and when" to "If and until"

By B3an on 3/24/2010 4:42:20 AM , Rating: 2
I dont know why idiots are rating you down. You're right.

As just one example, Steam will still use IE regardless of what browser you have as default.

By afkrotch on 3/23/2010 2:06:14 AM , Rating: 3
I use Winamp for all my music files and Media Player Classic for all video files. I've never once had any files revert to anything Windows, since setting those as default. I've never had any of them popup randomly either. Be in on Win2k, WinXP, or Win7. I've also never disabled them on my systems either. I just deleted the icons and went on my way.

Also, build two computers if you hate Windows so much. One for your games or whatever, the other for whatever it is you do.

Lets see long-term
By HighWing on 3/22/2010 2:45:28 PM , Rating: 5
I would be willing to bet at least half of that market share change can be attributed to 1 of 2 things;

a) Some people had no idea what they used before, and when faced with this choice just picked the one with a pretty logo. And either don't care or will switch back when someone tells them how.

b) Others wanted to try out other browsers and still might switch back later.

Granted this is just my opinion, but I'm willing to put money down that I'm right for a majority (50%+) of the users.

Plus these are only initial first run numbers. Lets see if long-term holds out and people don't switch back out of habit and/or work requiring IE.

RE: Lets see long-term
By icanhascpu on 3/22/2010 4:33:14 PM , Rating: 3
This is called 'choice'.

Thought I infinity rather see a screen pop up with a selection of 12 ISPs to choose from. Can I get an amen?

RE: Lets see long-term
By afkrotch on 3/23/2010 2:08:33 AM , Rating: 3
They've always had this choice. It really isn't MS's fault that these ppl didn't go out and look for it. Now, MS has to advertise for them instead.

I'd be like Coke having to put up a Pepsi billboard on their property.

RE: Lets see long-term
By tedrodai on 3/23/2010 8:21:10 AM , Rating: 3
Thought I infinity rather see a screen pop up with a selection of 12 ISPs to choose from. Can I get an amen?

Amen to this...

This is called 'choice'.

But not this quite so much. People had choice before any type of browser ballot...all you have to do is use IE long enough to download another browser's installer, double click the installer, and you're set. Now you simply use the ballot screen to do the same thing. If people didn't understand computers enough to obtain 3rd party browsers prior, that just shows you how well 3rd party browsers have advertised and distributed their products.

To anyone trying to say an internet browser has nothing to do with the core OS, I say BS. That's main reason people turn their personal computer on these days. Software is software is software, and it can be as modular as you care to design it--or as integrated.

I will agree that MS until recently didn't have good options for uninstalling IE though...and it won't exactly kill MS to bend a little to a group of OS customers who are calling for a change in functionality. I just think it's atrocious that they are legally mandated to freaking advertise for the competition or be forced to remove their product from a continent.

RE: Lets see long-term
By Lazarus Dark on 3/23/2010 8:56:32 PM , Rating: 2
I'm with "a".
Being a tech guy, like many of you, I am often called upon for tech support by those around me.

In my experience 90% of people don't know what a browser IS. To most people its just "the internet". They will see the ballot box as a THEME choice. And then they will be confused when FF or Chrome doesn't have the same options as they are used to. Or some odd page doesn't load right cause it's stupidly coded for IE... they won't even know how to go launch IE to view that page if necessary (I've run into IE-only sites with a couple of sites trying to pay bills.)

Opera 10.5
By Kougar on 3/22/2010 2:40:07 PM , Rating: 2
It's too bad Opera 10.5 is the most buggy release I've had the displeasure of using in years, the timing couldn't have been worse for Opera. Their downloads may have doubled but I doubt their market share will.

Too much of the functionality found in Opera 10.1 was removed or broken in 10.5, so now I'm back to using 10.1. Both versions still don't work when performing tasks like printing shipping labels or correctly presenting forum controls on various sites. For any Opera user that organizes their tabs on the left side of the screen, the Aero skin design of 10.5 doesn't look as good.

RE: Opera 10.5
By DanNeely on 3/22/2010 3:10:43 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. This probably opera's worst release in a last half dozen plus years. I haven't quite gotten annoyed enough to revert to 10.1 myself, but this is only the second time I've considered it seriously. I did roll back to an older version almost immediately a half dozen years ago but don't recall which version it was any longer.

RE: Opera 10.5
By Pirks on 3/22/2010 3:13:16 PM , Rating: 2
Whiner ;) Get 10.51

RE: Opera 10.5
By DanNeely on 3/22/2010 4:00:23 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks for the heads up. I probably wouldn't've noticed for a few days since I only restart my browser infrequently.

RE: Opera 10.5
By DanNeely on 3/22/2010 4:03:22 PM , Rating: 2
It looks like my biggest UI bug problem is fixed. Not certain though since I never drew a connection with the stated cause for the problem.

Minimized tabs not displaying after a restart

Bad reporting
By Motley on 3/22/2010 10:20:51 PM , Rating: 4
And according to statscounter, the source of this news article, IE usage in Europe dropped from a high in Febuarary of 46.91% all the way down to the current high in March of 46.88%!

Jason, check your sources next time before you post more sensationalist drivel.

RE: Bad reporting
By Motley on 3/22/2010 10:28:58 PM , Rating: 4
The day before the ballot screen went live, IE had a market share of 44.52% in Europe according to statcounter (the source used in this article).

Today, IE's market share is 46.88% in Europe according to the same source. So according to the source, the headline should read:
IE Market share GAINS 2.36% after ballot screen goes live in Europe! Then just reverse all the assumptions in the original article, and resubmit it as an update.

By n0ebert on 3/22/2010 4:17:22 PM , Rating: 1
Am I the only one that is somewhat annoyed that Apple can push for safari to be on Windows but Microsoft can't push for IE to be on a Mac system? If a version doesn't exist, I'm sure Microsoft would make one.

It's only fair that Apple be forced to have a ballot screen too.

RE: hypocritical
By Penti on 3/22/2010 9:03:11 PM , Rating: 3
MS stopped making Mac software pretty much. First version of Office where on Mac, IE was available just as windows media player they aren't any more.

However Apple is an OEM, not a software maker that has limited the choices for the OEMs which now can deliver computers with other browsers preinstalled. With IE properly uninstalled. OEMs do have the right to chose what to include in a computer. If Apple where just an ISV same case could be made against them too though. If someone perceive Apples actions as problems they are free to sue though.

By DanNeely on 3/22/2010 3:08:11 PM , Rating: 3
The IE share loss as a result of the ballot becomes even less significant if you note that they've lost between ~.5 and 1% market share each of the last half dozen months, and about 8% overall in 2009. While this might be the biggest single number hit for IE, it's not going to change the fact that the bulk of the loss comes from when we geeks fix someone elses computer and change the browser so they can't get infected as easily again as part of the process. :)

stupid ballot window
By menting on 3/22/2010 3:51:36 PM , Rating: 2
Like a previous poster said, it would be nice to see how many people actually switched because they wanted some browser other than IE, and how many just clicked the first option.
My mom, as an example, doesn't know what browser she's using (IE), and she doesn't even care. I asked her once if she wanted to try firefox, and she said she doesn't want to; her current browser (IE) works just fine.
There's tons of people like my mom out there, who could care less about what browser they're using, as long as it works. So this ballot window says NOTHING about which browser is better or worse, because if anyone cares about using an alternative browser, they would have installed it themselves regardless.

By Uncle on 3/22/2010 2:56:48 PM , Rating: 1
I am glad choice is happening. Now it needs to come to North America. I didn't realize their were so many browsers, other then the top three that get mentioned constantly,E,FF,Opera. I have heard of some of the others, but I haven't tried them out because they are mentioned as a news item when they first come on scene, and I am at the point that unless they have improved with age I will not try them out if my browser isn't broken, but I usually don't hear of them again. Thanks for the heads up Europe.

News Flash
By thrust2night on 3/22/10, Rating: 0
By albus on 3/22/10, Rating: -1
RE: Marketshare
By GaryJohnson on 3/22/2010 2:17:30 PM , Rating: 2
They may now be aware of the name of alternatives, but not necessarily of the features or reasons why someone would choose those alternatives.

I imagine most people that didn't know the alternatives existed before are either picking the one that has the best sounding name, best looking logo, the best sounding marketing blurb, or are just picking the (random) first one.

RE: Marketshare
By Smartless on 3/22/2010 2:39:45 PM , Rating: 2
Yes the Firefox girl man.... That's why MS is losing, they need a girl to appeal to the nerds.

I have to agree though, if you didn't know, what difference does it make anyway. It just means its random choice now but I guess that's all that matters. Soon we'll be picking whether MS Paint should be in there or some other POS program.

RE: Marketshare
By reader1 on 3/22/10, Rating: -1
RE: Marketshare
By Alexstarfire on 3/22/2010 3:57:45 PM , Rating: 1
No it won't. They will have no incentive to do so.

RE: Marketshare
By Pirks on 3/22/10, Rating: 0
RE: Marketshare
By jbwhite99 on 3/22/2010 4:00:45 PM , Rating: 3
they have a Microsoft girl - it is Steve Ballmer. (I'm sure DT has video of him dancing)

Seriously, IE has been behind the times. Who had multiple tabs first? Extensions? Ad block? Better security? Performance?

Remember, MS didn't make IE - they bought it. They have slowly made enhancements. Key word is slowly.

RE: Marketshare
By funkyd99 on 3/22/2010 2:25:30 PM , Rating: 5
And yet, how is it Microsoft's responsibility to make the consumer aware of alternatives?

Google did something ingenious with Chrome... they, you know, advertised!

RE: Marketshare
By albus on 3/22/10, Rating: -1
RE: Marketshare
By quiksilvr on 3/22/2010 2:46:33 PM , Rating: 2
If consumers wanted alternatives, they would look for it. If the EU is going to force Operating Systems to show alternative web browsers, why not do it for everything? Why not have a window showing Windows 7, Linux and MacOSX and let the consumer click? Hey, they didn't have a choice before until now! It's not like they couldn't have just gone to Google and typed different web browsers, because Microsoft didn't ALLOW it.

Give me a break. The EU is stupid. They have no right to do this and I can't believe Microsoft is putting up with it. And why isn't EU forcing Apple to do the same? Give a window showing Opera, Safari, Chrome and Firefox.

RE: Marketshare
By albus on 3/22/10, Rating: -1
RE: Marketshare
By BZDTemp on 3/22/2010 7:31:49 PM , Rating: 1
Give me a break. The EU is stupid. They have no right to do this and I can't believe Microsoft is putting up with it. And why isn't EU forcing Apple to do the same? Give a window showing Opera, Safari, Chrome and Firefox.

LOL - Are you for real. "The EU is stupid", "They have no right"... first of all exactly why don't you think the EU has the right? Of course the EU has the right. Secondly the EU is not stupid. In fact I'd say you're the stupid one being that you have no grasp of what a monopoly is about.

Oh, and what exactly would you have Microsoft do? Turn the back on a market bigger than the US? Not likely. What Microsoft is doing is playing nice while trying to find out exactly what they can get away with.

RE: Marketshare
By jabber on 3/23/2010 6:08:37 AM , Rating: 1
Oh no the EU is stupid?

For once we have a Govt group that is standing up to unelected corporate interests and not bending over. Unlike some other so called "democratic" Govts that can't seem to operate unless the corporations are involved at every level.

Yes the EU can be a pain but the fact they throw a stone in the corporate control pond from time to time is ok by me.

Now if you'll excuse me I have to get back to living in my so called 'socialist hellhole exisitance' with free healthcare and six weeks paid vaction. Oh the suffering.

RE: Marketshare
By funkyd99 on 3/22/2010 2:57:42 PM , Rating: 2
But IE DID retain customers. Given IE's market share held ground for so long proves its been "good enough" for the average consumer. All this ballot box does is force people to make a choice. The "guy on the street" doesn't know the difference between a browser and the internet. He'll pick the first browser on the list. Or the browser with the coolest name. Or Chrome, because he saw it on a Hulu ad.

There is usually one reason the average guy on the street installs a different browser: he messed up his IE with dozens of toolbars because he never unchecks the "install this crappy toolbar?!" box when installing programs.

RE: Marketshare
By MadMan007 on 3/22/2010 5:04:25 PM , Rating: 2
When are people going to stop the 'IE6 sucked' stuff? Never?

RE: Marketshare
By MadMan007 on 3/22/2010 5:06:50 PM , Rating: 2
Er, I should have written

"When are people going to stop using the 'IE6 sucked' stuff as a vilification of all things IE?"

(Yes, IE6 has, or had, problems which I'm sure someone would have ripped me on if I'd left my first post only.)

RE: Marketshare
By omnicronx on 3/22/2010 2:35:50 PM , Rating: 2
Or we may get to see the power of users selecting whatever they can click on first!

It would be interseting to know other stats like which button position was most likely to get picked..

For all intents and purposes, most people just plain don't care what browser they use, so I don't see how a browser ballot is going to prove 'real popularity' at all..

I only say this because, if the masses really cared that much about which browser they used, there would not be a need for a browser ballot in the first place.

P.S Coming from a now converted Chrome user, I still can't live without IE or at the very least firefox. Chrome is still not up to snuff when compared to Firefox, and definately IE when it comes to pages you can/can't view. JS performance is not everything if i cannot properly view a webpage..

RE: Marketshare
By dragonbif on 3/22/2010 2:51:05 PM , Rating: 2
I thought I would toss this out there...

This is some Microsoft info on IE9.

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads

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