Print 87 comment(s) - last by Lightnix.. on Mar 21 at 9:52 PM

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."

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Come again?
By invidious on 3/15/2010 2:03:00 PM , Rating: -1
As a capitalist I agree with your end position, but your reasoning appealing to apathy makes my brain hurt.

Your suggesting that we should just allow major manufacturers to use their preexisting advantage to drive all the competition out of business? Then they can start to capitalize their monopoly by charging higher prices and eliminating product improvement. I bet you would care if you had to replace your windshield twice as often and it costs you 50% more each time.

The inability of some people to follow their opinions through to their logical conclusion is truely amazing. Our government may be too regulation happy at the moment, but the alterative of industry running the country didn't work out too well for consumers back in the day and I don't think you would enjoy that coming back.

RE: Come again?
By Kurz on 3/15/2010 2:12:03 PM , Rating: 2
The funny thing is the browser market was NEVER BETTER!

RE: Come again?
By porkpie on 3/15/2010 2:13:32 PM , Rating: 5
"we should just allow major manufacturers to use their preexisting advantage to drive all the competition out of business?"

A) The competition isn't being driven out. The number of browser alternatives is increasing , not decreasing.

B) Even were browser alternatives disappearing, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Keeping the market fragmented with multiple options that provide no real benefit over each other wastes developer resources, marketing dollars, and confuses the consumer.

In Microsoft's opinion (and mine) there is no such beast as a "browser market". A web browser is and should be a component of the operating system, just like a file browser or a format utility. Can you seriously imagine buying Windows without a browser installed? Having to go out and find a disc somewhere else to even start using the Internet? Would the "extra competition" of that scenario be worth the tremendous burden it would place on consumers?

The entire anti-trust movement began on the idea that a monopolist could exploit their position by overcharging consumers. Does anyone here really believe Microsoft is ever going to start charging for IE? What benefit are we really giving the consumer here...that they're guaranteed more options on tabbed browsing? Or a slightly better rendering speed? Is that REALLY worth getting the government involved to such a degree...especially when third-party browsers are ALREADY thriving?

RE: Come again?
By sigmatau on 3/16/2010 2:39:36 AM , Rating: 2
I couldn't have said it better. Why would any company want to make their webpages compatible with every single browser? That sounds like such a waste if I was in that business.

It is also a no brainer that the browser should be a part of the operating system. It should also be an option to be able to install your own, if you so choose. Microsoft did that already. It boggles the mind why the EU would want them to advertise for the other browsers, especialy since FF has been gaining, dramaticaly, in market share.

I spit on the EU for such a stupid decision.

"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki