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Opera & Mozilla Slam Windows 7 RC

Gordon Kelly


Opera & Mozilla Slam Windows 7 RC

This must be a contender for least surprising story ever...

Mozilla - maker of Firefox - and Opera - maker of, erm, Opera - went public late last week to declare their frustration at the lack of browser etiquette exhibited by the newly launched Windows 7 Release Candidate.

The essence of the (perfectly valid) claim is the rather underhand manoeuvre which affects upgrades from Windows Vista to the RC whereby the user's default browser is automatically changed to Internet Explorer 8 regardless of their previous preference. Yep, it is sneaky.

"Our initial review suggests this is a blatant use of the Windows operating system to change the market dynamics of browser usage," said Mozilla chairwoman Mitchell Baker. "This issue highlights the problem with the browser market," agreed Opera CTO Hakon Wium Lie. "It's certainly something we would want to discuss."

In response Microsoft rejected the claims saying Windows 7 RC is simply beta software and it targets experienced users who will know what to do when faced with this issue. Which begs the question: Why do it in the first place then? Compounding the situation, Microsoft is due to face the European Union next month over antitrust allegations regarding the bundling of Internet Explorer with its OS - a case which has dragged on for more than six years. Way to make a great impression guys.

For the record, we do actually like Internet Explorer 8, just a whole lot less than we like Firefox... or Opera.

Or Safari 4...

Or Google Chrome...



via The FT


May 11, 2009, 5:20 am

defintely a little sneaky but but why would anyone upgrade and do a fresh install?


May 11, 2009, 5:44 am

Anyone using firefox would not find this an obstacle to using any other browser. The simple fact is, MOzilla would love to be in the position of allowing Firefox to be set as the default browser. Why doesn't anyone attack Google's sneaky way of trying to install their software?

On other topics, I decided to try firefox again, and have now switched back from IE8. It is a lot faster than the original firefox 3 and no crashes as of yet. Additionally, I've found myself addicted to extensions, which I used to claim made people lazy.

Zotero, Xmarks, Sitelauncher (trustedreviews is obviously shortcut to "t") and Lazarus are indisposable now!


May 11, 2009, 6:23 am

This sounds like hot air. From what I can tell, this only affects upgrades to RC1 as you upgrade from Vista. That's not something we generally do every day and it's an activity that's usually reserved for techies, who are quite capable of changing their default browser settings. It's also entirely possible this will be 'fixed' for the final release of Windows 7.

Opera and Mozilla are right to make some noise so Microsoft know they can't pull this trick for the final release, but right now this strikes me as a bit of a non-issue.


May 11, 2009, 6:49 am

But surely everyone would just change their default browser back to FF or whatever, wouldn't they? It's not really that hard, not least for those that actually know not to use IE.


May 11, 2009, 6:49 am

@Chris - it's all three companies firing shots across one another's bows... there was no need for Microsoft to stir this up in the first place though - it has just given its rivals unnecessary warning.


May 11, 2009, 6:51 am

@smc8788 - that's the common trap: you're assuming far greater technical knowledge than most people have. I suspect less than 50% of the population even know alternatives are out there. I suspect many think "Internet Explorer is what you surf the web with"...


May 11, 2009, 7:09 am



May 11, 2009, 8:04 am

Even though i dont agree with sneaky tactics from any company (Apple, Google, Yahoo), but surely if they already had FF or Opera as default already, it would just be a matter of setting back to that after the upgrade. They had the expertise to do that in the first place.

Dont you think, Gordon?

Shame on MS for making their case harder to defend.


May 11, 2009, 8:48 am

@Pbryanw - checky?

@bazza - ish. Wholly unnecessary move from MS which will just get it flack.


May 11, 2009, 9:01 am

@ Gordon "I suspect many think Internet Explorer is what you surf the web with"...

An extremely valid point, with Microsoft's careful (comforting) naming of their browser as "Internet Explorer", rather than a more esoteric name we are used to. -I suspect this just compounds the issue for the less technically astute that you portray.


May 11, 2009, 12:17 pm

unless this makes it into the final release, i don't see what everyone's fuming about. i'll assume a user who has installed windows 7 has at least some computer knowhow, so it would be easy to change back. and anyway, mozilla asks me whether i want to make it my default browser whenever it detects that it's not the default browser. so? most users will just click "yes" for their favourite browser.


May 11, 2009, 1:02 pm

Typical Vole trick.


May 11, 2009, 1:40 pm

Gordon said on 11th May 2009

@smc8788 - that's the common trap: you're assuming far greater technical knowledge than most people have. I suspect less than 50% of the population even know alternatives are out there. I suspect many think "Internet Explorer is what you surf the web with"...

I think you're being a little too biased here Gordon. If people had already installed a browser other than IE8, it is fairly safe to assume they'd be able to switch it back to another default browser.

I'd be surprised if this made it into final RC - if I had to defend MS (and I don't think they do warrant defending in this case) one could argue that this action was to assist with the RC testing process.


May 11, 2009, 2:09 pm

While you point is very valid, Gordon, someone that doesn't know how to change web browsers shouldn't be going anywhere near a beta/RC build anyway.

However, as you say it's unnecessarily devious on Microsoft's part.


May 11, 2009, 2:47 pm

If anyone's gone out of their way to change their default browser in the first place, then they won't have much trouble doing it again- more than likely their browser of choice will prompt the user to reset it when they first open it on Win7. Funnily enough, I actually prefer IE8 over Firefox and Safari- I'm using Chrome right now but it's very much a love/hate relationship. I kinda wish it'd just jump into bed with Opera and have the perfect lovechild.

Andrew Marshall

May 11, 2009, 2:57 pm

This is a complete non issue. Upgrading from Beta to RC isn't even a supported scenario, developers and early adopters do it at their own risk. I seriously doubt anyone at MS even considered what would happen to default browser settings.


May 11, 2009, 4:16 pm

Andrew Marshall wrote: "I seriously doubt anyone at MS even considered what would happen to default browser settings."

I think that's the problem with MS, even after all the software they have produced, they still make these basic errors and assumptions! No wonder their software is so bloated / rubbish!

I have high hopes for Windows 7, but I fear it'll just be Vista all over again.


May 11, 2009, 4:37 pm

From what I've seen, when you upgrade to Win7, it backs up your progs + docs, then copies an image of Win7 to your hard drive before restoring the progs + docs.

It would seem that they're just not backing up that setting (whether by design or unintentional is a matter for debate).


May 11, 2009, 5:44 pm

@Andrew Marshall - it is when upgrading from Vista to 7

@smc8788 - the warning is shot is to make sure MS doesn't do it in the final version

@ilovethemonkeyhead - what I just said to smc8788

@Steve Johnson - In Microsoft's defence Windows 7 is vastly superior to Vista is every way.


May 11, 2009, 5:45 pm

@smc8788 - the warning shot is to make* (it is both a credit and a frustration that we cannot edit submitted comments - even our own!)


May 11, 2009, 6:36 pm

I'm browsing with Firefox 3+ but not for long after installing the essentials it's awful, especially when you are looking for a haywire ghost process to nail, I just wanted to close the browser.

Test drive on IE8 very impressed (it WORKS!!!) so i'm going back to IE8/Opera.


May 11, 2009, 11:19 pm

@Gordon - Sorry, just being an insufferable pedant, but seeing as it appeared on the front page, I couldn't resist.


May 12, 2009, 4:32 am

Well that rather dropped my opinion of Opera. This is a beta version of the OS and microsoft can do whatever they want to help testing, if they wanted to block other browsers entirely it would still be a perfectly reasonable decision.

The final version is another matter of course.


May 12, 2009, 5:03 am

@Pbryanw - no problem. Fixed :)


May 12, 2009, 5:05 am

@Xiphias - I disagree precisely because this is a 'Release Candidate'. It's just daft unnecessarily stirring up a hornets' nest. Expect yet another hefty EU fine in the pipeline.

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