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Small browser firms are once again asking for Microsoft to show them some love.  (Source: WebMD)

"We can't compete with the sort of money that the top guys have, so this choice screen is enormously important. And it's just enormously disappointing that it happened this way." -- Flock spokesman
Small browsers can only be found by scrolling sideways

Microsoft has found itself having to alter its practices on several occasions in Europe and the U.S. after regulators stepped in and forced change. One of the most recent instances was when the European Commission asked Microsoft to make browser selection more open and fair to other browser makers in Europe.

Microsoft and the EC worked for months to come to an agreement on how exactly Microsoft would go about offering users of Windows a choice of other browsers rather than simply bundling IE with its OS. The result was the browser ballot box, or Browser Choice screen.

Microsoft's first ballot box offer didn’t make it and eventually the Redmond, Washington-based company offered to randomize the placement of browsers within the choice screen. In December 2009, the EU was reportedly set to agree to the randomized ballot box. Eventually the randomized choice screen was approved and Microsoft announced in February that it would start rolling the ballot screen out to users in Europe on March 1.

The final form of the ballot box randomized the order of the major browsers on the screen and left the five major offerings on the main page, with other significantly smaller browsers available as options if the user scrolled the screen to the side.

EWeek reports that the rational behind making the ballot screen only show the five major browser options was fear that offering 12 browsers on one screen would be overwhelming and users would simply close the box and stick with IE. Smaller browser firms whose products are not on the main page are set to ask Microsoft to alter the ballot box again to give their offerings more prominent placement.

The six smaller browser firms making the request include Maxthon, SlimBrowser, Avant Force, Flock, Sleipnir and GreenBrowser. Representatives from these firms registered a formal petition with the EC on March 3 that protested that their browsers were only viewable if the user scrolled sideways.

The petition stated, "It is clear that the final Choice Screen design leaves the vast majority of users unaware that there are more than five browsers to choose from. This is inconsistent with the EU Commission's stated goal for the Choice Screen—to provide European consumers with 'information on the 12 most widely used Web browsers and to allow users to easily download and install one or more of these Web browsers.'"

A spokesperson for Shawn Hardin, CEO of Flock, stated, "The EC recommended that the seven browser companies engage with Microsoft as a group, and if they can come to a mutually agreed-upon solution, the EC will fully support it. Flock CEO Shawn Hardin has reached out to Microsoft on behalf of the group to schedule a meeting, and Microsoft responded that they 'will get back to the group shortly.'"

The small browser firms claim that how the browser screen is configured is a matter of survival for them. Not being able to get prominent first page placement for their browsers hurts the ability for the small firms to compete according to the companies.

Hardin said, "We can't compete with the sort of money that the top guys have, so this choice screen is enormously important. And it's just enormously disappointing that it happened this way."

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By brshoemak on 3/15/2010 10:36:00 AM , Rating: 5
How about Microsoft just makes a slot machine app, you pull the on-screen handle and whatever browser icon pops will be downloaded and installed automatically. Just for fun they should throw in IE3 (yeah, 3) and Netscape 4.

RE: Gamble
By Camikazi on 3/15/2010 10:38:18 AM , Rating: 2
Sounds like fun, but do IE3 and Netscape 4 even work in Windows 7?

RE: Gamble
By martinrichards23 on 3/15/2010 11:18:39 AM , Rating: 4
Sounds like fun, but do IE3 and Netscape 4 even work in Windows 7?

I think you mean:

Sounds like fun, but do IE3 and Netscape 4 even work with the internet?

RE: Gamble
By seamonkey79 on 3/16/2010 12:05:01 AM , Rating: 2
Since neither of them really worked when they were brand new, I'm not sure that would even be funny 0_0

RE: Gamble
By MrBlastman on 3/15/2010 12:48:00 PM , Rating: 1
Netscape 4 was so awesome that it would randomly corrupt your file allocation table on whatever partition you were saving data to from it. Don't believe me? It happened twice. I stopped using Nutscrape and the problem never happened again.

RE: Gamble
By porkpie on 3/15/2010 1:01:45 PM , Rating: 1
You're right; I don't believe you. Netscape (and nearly all other software) doesn't make API calls at a level that would lead to FAT corruption.

Correlation does not equate causation. Just because cities with public water have higher rates of AIDs does not mean drinking city water causes AIDs.

RE: Gamble
By MrBlastman on 3/15/2010 1:18:20 PM , Rating: 1
Then explain this:

Immediately after clicking save on Nutscrape (twice), the FAT was corrupted and I had to reformat the partition.

If I press a button, and x happens multiple times, then the button must be leading to the action, right? They call that cause and effect.

RE: Gamble
By porkpie on 3/15/2010 1:23:06 PM , Rating: 1
At a guess, I imagine you simply had your disk in such a state that any piece of software making that particular API call would have led to the corruption. Or perhaps the corruption was already there, but until a certain size file (or a file in a particular place) was saved, it was not evident.

The nice thing about software is that its usually 100% deterministic. If Netscape had a systemic problem with FAT corruption, other users would have reported it. Furthermore, for this to even be possible, they would have had to be making API calls at a lower level than application software typically uses, which not only would be have risky, but pointless.

RE: Gamble
By MrBlastman on 3/15/2010 1:42:22 PM , Rating: 3
I would believe that it would have been the hard drive itself or the operating system if I had not continued to use that same hard drive and same partition for another six years before finally cycling it out. I have my hard drives on a six year rotation, three of them total (on my main pc) so that means at any given point in time I am replacing a hard drive every two years. This hard drive with the FAT corruption was brand new at the time and of a good brand--Western Digital.

I would also believe that others would have found the problem too, except for the fact that I was doing something obscure within Nutscrape at the time. I was using the newsgroup feature of it to surf Usenet at the time and I was saving encodes to disk manually (as this is how you had to do things like this back in the day--I later switched to xnews for such operations as it was superior). Obviously a very small percentage of the population was using this feature. Usenet was obscure even in the late 90's/early 2000's, it is all but dead now (thanks to congress).

That is my explanation at least as to how it was not fixed. Who knows? Maybe it was. Nutscrape was _full_ of bugs (though its bookmark system was and still is superior to IE even though I stopped using it years ago).

All I know is this--if you press a button in software and more than once it causes your file allocation table to turn to garbage, you stop using that software very quickly as I did and find a new application that does the same thing. Losing your file allocation table is bad for your data.

RE: Gamble
By MrBlastman on 3/15/2010 4:26:08 PM , Rating: 2
Ouch. I think I struck a nerve. Despite Netscape being toast I think I bothered someone out there who still has fond memories of the ill-fated browser.

"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings

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