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Microsoft Unveils Browser & Office Ballot Screens

Gordon Kelly


Microsoft Unveils Browser & Office Ballot Screens

You may have almost forgotten the furore surrounding Windows 7 and Microsoft Office over the last six months, but the European Commission hasn't...

Today Microsoft has given updates and unveiled screenshots showing how it will comply with regulators requests to offer more choice for its two flagship products. Firstly, as part of the {Windows 7E debacle Microsoft will offer a "Web browser choice screen" to Internet Explorer users in Europe.

This will come as an automatic download through Windows Update and is installed automatically. If IE is your default browser (but why oh why would it be?) then:

"The browser choice screen {above} will present you with a list of leading browsers," said Microsoft VP and Deputy General Counsel, Dave Heiner. "In keeping with our agreement with the European Commission, this list is presented in random order. You can also scroll to the right to see additional browsers, which are also presented in random order. The browsers that are listed and the content relating to them will be updated from time to time."

"The screen provides three options," he continued. "Click on 'Install' to install one of the listed browsers. Click on 'Tell me more' to get more information about any of the browsers. These links (and the browser logos and associated text) are provided by each browser vendor. Click on 'Select Later' to review the choice screen the next time you log onto your computer. This software update will also add a shortcut to your desktop, from which you can launch the choice screen at any time."

As for Office, Neowin has revealed Microsoft will use a similar ballot screen to prompt users about which file format they would prefer to use: Office Open XML (OOXML) or OpenDocument (ODF) document formats. OOXML is the suite's default format, but Canadian software company i4i filed a patent dispute over the way Word uses these XML files. In December Microsoft surprisingly lost an appeal against i4i's sales injunction and has had to act quickly.

So can these matters now be drawn to a close? Highly unlikely...


Microsoft Official Browser Post Reaction

Office News via Neowin


February 22, 2010, 6:00 pm

What a total waste of tax payers money by the EU. People that will understand what that screen is even asking them will already have downloaded the browser of their choice anyway. The rest will be totally confused - suspect Google will be the real winner as most people have probably heard of that and assume that is the "Internet".

My parents and inlaws wouldn't have a clue and would be baffled by a screen asking if they want Safari, Opera , Explorer. More likely to think they had been hit by spam from a travel agent trying to sell them expensive trips/holidays....and go into a panic and turn the PC off. ;-)


February 22, 2010, 8:59 pm

Those screens must be a joke, the EU have seriously approved putting 'Windows Internet Explorer' in the title of the window and using the IE Icon for it? As for the horizontal scrolling...

I wonder if Microsoft is trying to show the computer literate world that the people enforcing this don't know enough?


February 22, 2010, 10:05 pm

@Xiphias - It doesn't need Microsoft to show the world how dumb the EU are, they do a perfectly good job of that all by themselves :-P I think it is hilarious that it shows IE in the title. The irony of it, lmao.


February 22, 2010, 11:21 pm

@Steve32: "My parents and inlaws wouldn't have a clue" is precisely the *problem* that this is trying to solve. An educated consumer is a protect consumer!


February 23, 2010, 2:19 am

@Ken: I work in IT and I struggle with just getting people to read email's with instructions, the amount of people who have trouble with things I think are basic is astounding. I would lean to the majority of users just clicking IE so they can get back to googling something. The average user does not want choice, they want familiarity.


February 23, 2010, 2:44 am

@kdot: I've worked in IT for 35 years, know six languages, have had every job there is, and have used *every* platform there is, and cannot agree that the average user wants choice in an OS, any more than they all want to drive the same car. Familiarity comes from standard and open APIs, not a monopoly. Familiarity comes from point, click, drag, drop. Windows 7 is more different from Windows XP than is Ubuntu Linux, so familiarity is no argument. Firestone doesn't make tires than only fit Fords. The PC industry is the only industry in the entire world that's controlled by a single company at the 90% level. There's something wrong with that, and with allowing that company to leverage a monopoly in the OS market to promote a monopoly in the browser or media player markets. Thanks. :-)


February 23, 2010, 2:50 am

@kdot: Very sorry, change "cannot agree that the average user wants choice" to "cannot agree that the average user doesn't want choice"


February 23, 2010, 8:13 pm

@Ken: Come on at least keep it factual, you havent had every job there is, and just because you *might* have used every platform that is not what an average user does, also I dont see what knowing 6 languages has to do with anything but if you feel you need to stroke your e-peen to prove a point go for it.

You've worked 35 years in IT? Do you even work in a front facing role?

I dont see how you can still believe that an average user will pick anything but IE because it's what they know. Most of the people who use FF or alternative browsers use them because someone IT literate recommended it, or they are IT literate. I have personally converted a good few number.

Familiarity comes from not being surprised, why do you think MS does not do a major shake up of their OS (i remember reading an article about this before windows 7 was out of beta), me and you would be fine, the average user would have a nervous breakdown because what they once knew isnt there, they dont want to learn anything new they just want to get to their information.

At the end of the day MS has been controlling the PC experience for a long time, most peoples first introduction to computers was using an MS OS, which means using IE to access the internet.

We cant even get people to upgrade from IE6 to IE7, dont see how you are going to get them to go from IE to Some Browser I've Never Heard Of And Will Need To Read About To Make An Informed Decision.

You are really putting a lot of trust in the same people who call me because they have not turned their monitor on, or because the curser keeps moving because they have a folder on their keyboard. I used to work in 1st Line Support and would deal with average users on a daily basis, they dont read, dont use common sense, dont attempt to think for themselves. These same people can forget their password within 10 minutes of giving them a new ones (and no thats not an overexaggeration).


February 23, 2010, 11:12 pm

@kdot: You'll just have to trust me that I've vastly more IT experience than you; it's a shame that your experience has been so negative with people. If familiarity comes from not being surprised, then why is every iteration of Windows so surprising?

Like you say, most people have known nothing but an MS OS, so I think the real question is: if they have so much trouble understanding computers, maybe that speaks more to the usability of Windows than to the actual PC or the user's intelligence? Windows and IE didn't get to 90% by comparing favourably with the competition because, as you say, so few know that there is any competition. http://opentochoice.org/


February 24, 2010, 1:39 am

@kdot - well said.

@ken *big sigh, dear oh dear* You seem to have been stuck in IT so long that you have lost touch with reality. A lot of people struggle how to use their TV, Microwave, Dishwasher, Car Radio, etc, etc. It is hardly a Windows specific problem! Most of them don't care about the technology - it is a means to an end. As for your comment that Ubuntu is more like XP than Win7. Still ROTFLMAO at that one. I would ask you to justify, but not sure I could stand the hernia it would cause. How many years in IT?

Interesting you use "tyres" to justify your argument before - how many people actually have any comprehension of the tyre they put on their cars? Choice eh? What difference does it make - you will probably either go with what the manufacturer recommends (which has probably more to do with the marketing deal they struck with that tyre vendor than the technical suitability of the tyre to the vehicle) or you will probably go with the one the garage you go to recommends, which is most likely the one the garage makes the most profit on. Choice is such a wonderful thing!

I use FF at home, but have to use IE at work. For 99% of what I do with them (which is reading the web pages they deliver to me) they both work perfectly. Of course, FF and the like have helped push forward innovation and forced M$ to try and keep up. That's a great thing and long may it continue. But the EU demanding people be given a fair "choice" is a total nonsense! Does your iPhone ask you which browser you want to use when you first get it? No, and neither should it. What's the difference to M$? Are Apple taking advantage of their dominance in that market space - probably and fair play to them. No more than Google trying to dominate the world through their search engine and all the stuff they give away from "free" - Personally I am far more cynical of them than anyone else.


February 24, 2010, 5:43 am

@Steve32: The point is that there are many tyre manufacturers, and many car manufacturers, and they all seem to enjoy compatibility without paying royalties. You would have everyone drive a Trabant so perhaps you live in the wrong political environment. FYI, hunting for a deal on tyres a famous pastime; I have no idea who you claim to be speaking for.

Speaking of Macs, you just don't hear owners saying, "I don't get it, I hate this thing!" do you. What does that tell us? You incorrectly compare Microsoft, which is in a position to block access to market, with other companies that are in markets free of such manipulation and domination.

There's a definition of monopoly that states it is the ability of a company to reduce the profit margin of their competition to zero. Has it escaped your notice that all the competing browsers are offered at no charge, while Microsoft profits enough from the sale of Windows to offset the cost of IE development? That's what it takes to compete with Windows, IE, Office, and Media Player: offer your product for free. What kind of "market" is that? Certainly not capitalist.

This is all about access to market. Surely you realize that your opinion goes against that of the courts on three continents... and I'm the one out of touch with reality? Clearly this is all out of your league.



February 25, 2010, 4:32 am

@ken: Tyres - you clearly didn't understand what I said. But I will say it again - what is a choice if you don't understand the choices?

Apple Software: Could write a book on the woes of iTunes alone. And yes, I have read lots of complaints from Mac users - though not many about the fact that it doesn't include Opera as standard (ironic when it was Opera who complained to the EU in the first place) Maybe you should write to the EU ;-)

Office is free is it? Hmmm, last time I looked you had to pay for it - and people were moaning on TR only recently about the costs of it. Free Software: So you are saying that every piece of software that is free is just to gain a monopoly? Or, only the free stuff that Microsoft provide? Should Google offer you up a list of other search engines ever time you visit their home page - stop them exploiting their monopoly? As far as I am aware IE has always been free (so not like Microsoft change policy to screw the others), same as Notepad, Windows Explorer, Paint, RDP, Command Promopt, etc, etc. You think it would be better that they were all banned from Windows and everyone forced to make a choice at first use of what to use? Again, you have TOTALLY missed my basic point. It was nothing to do with monopoly, it was about giving people a choice who won't understand that choice is.

Do you agree with every law the eu comes out with? Is someone out of touch with reality to question what they do? Interesting point of view.

All I have done is give an example of the downside of what the EU has done. I personally don't see they have done anything to benefit the public - those that want a choice will already have made it and will simply install what they want to use. You seem to just throw insults and bash anything Microsoft. As such my time in this thread is now over. Bye.


February 25, 2010, 8:14 am

@Steve32: You say, "All I have done is give an example of the downside of what the EU has done." and I ask what constructive alternatives have you suggested? Oh, none? Just complaints from you, who believe you're always right and the entire world is wrong.

"You seem to just throw insults and bash anything Microsoft." Excuse me? Who started with the insults? Do please stop crying. My Gawd how you softie-lovers whine when you lose!

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