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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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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.)

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