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

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.


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