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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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RE: Come again?
By adiposity on 3/16/2010 1:09:53 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Microsoft doesn't care WHAT you do with their browser idiot. They sell OPERATING SYSTEMS, not browsers !


Oh, really? First of all, MS sells a lot more than Operating Systems, "idiot." They sell Office Suites, have their fingers in advertising revenue, video game hardware, and services. The search engine in browsers, to list just one example, is driven largely by which browser one uses. This can lead to a lot of advertising dollars.

Why was Microsoft freaking out when Google was buying Admob? They shouldn't have cared at all, according to you. After all, all they sell is Operating Systems. Who cares who gets the ad revenue?

Microsoft cares deeply about who uses their browser. If nothing else, if the majority of people use their browser, they can design things their own way and ignore inconvenient groups like W3C. This makes their own development easier. The IE5-IE6 days were great for Microsoft, as they basically could do anything they wanted with ActiveX, their own technology. Now, that ability is slowly being taken away. This is a pain.

If you think MS doesn't care who uses their browser, you are the "idiot." They scrambled to catch up to Netscape once they realized that the information portal for the "net" was being controlled by someone other than them.


RE: Come again?
By Reclaimer77 on 3/16/2010 5:54:19 PM , Rating: 2
Notice I said MS doesn't care what you DO with their browser. I didn't say they don't care if you DON'T use it.

So nice speech there pal. Too bad it was a waste of time.


RE: Come again?
By adiposity on 3/17/2010 11:34:40 AM , Rating: 2
If you read the original post you were replying to, I never said anything about Microsoft caring about what you DO with the browser. So your comment didn't make much sense unless I assumed you meant that Microsoft didn't care if you use their browser.

As long as we are arguing stupid semantics, though, "using" the browser is "doing something" with the browser. So if Microsoft care that you use their browser, they do care what you do with it.

If you are saying, Microsoft doesn't care HOW you use their browser, I still don't agree. As I pointed out earlier, they want you to use their browser to use their services. This is why their browser directs to msn.com (homepage) and bing.com (search engine).

So you are still wrong. I'm not sure why you are so upset that I point out Microsoft made some decisions to improve their position in the market. I'd expect nothing less. And as I've stated elsewhere, I do not support this EU browser ballot BS.


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