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Windows 7 RC Bi-hourly Shutdowns & Browser Ballot Go Live

Gordon Kelly


Windows 7 RC Bi-hourly Shutdowns & Browser Ballot Go Live

If you use a Windows PC then chances are you've had one or two prompts today...

Both are relatively straightforward, but may have slipped your mind. The first concerns those still sponging off using the Windows 7 Release Candidate. Microsoft has made this clear since April last year, but the 12 month free licence is about to expire with bi-hourly shutdowns now starting as of 1 March.

The most determined users will still find the RC will work until 1 June, but restarting every 30 minutes should sicken the majority of (sane) people by then. Don't sigh. If you haven't made your decision over whether to upgrade or not following a year long trial period then I hope never to wait behind you in a take-away.

Secondly, the controversial Windows Browser Ballot screen goes live today across all versions of Windows for users around the EU. Only those who have Internet Explorer (any edition) setup as their primary browser will see the notice which displays the four most popular alternatives (Firefox, Safari, Chrome and Opera) along with IE8.

To try and play fair, the five are presented in random order and users will also have the option to see a further seven browsers should they dig a little deeper. These are Flock, Avant Browser, GreenBrowser, Maxthon, K-Meleon, Sleipnir and SlimBrowser and no, I haven't heard of many of them either. My recommendation? I moved from Firefox to Chrome in December and haven't regretted it one iota.

So can we now expect a radical shake-up of the browser space which IE still dominates with about 60 per cent market share? Sadly I think not. Those using IE are often less tech savvy and this screen is likely to prove an irritant they quickly click pass. Then again, I hope not...

Note: Yes, that is the quality of photo Microsoft has released to show the browser ballot screen and no, I couldn't find it within myself to make IE my default browser to trigger the notice and get a higher quality screen grab. There are just some lines that cannot be crossed...


March 1, 2010, 9:30 pm

Unfortunately I agree with you that this might no be enough to start a browser revolution, but it has to start somewhere I guess. On the other hand, people still using IE6 (they do exist!) might realise there's a newer version for them if they insist on sticking to IE (they DO exist!). Web designers/developers (in partiicular for large companys) can start forgetting about supporting the browser web designers love to hate!


March 1, 2010, 10:21 pm

If people are still using IE6 then they are as likely to skip this as they were the upgrades to IE7 and IE8. I still think this browser ballot is a joke and if people buy a Windows computer MS are perfectly entitled to put their own software on it. It's just Opera & Firefox crying pathetically that's caused this. You didn't hear MS complaining when Netscape had 90% of the browser market, they just went out and created a better alternative.

I skip between FF, Chrome & IE8 all the time; I don't really notice much difference between the three, bit faster here or there, but not so much that I think people need to be "saved from their ignorance" and be shown this "browser ballot". The EU has way too much power, the fines MS had to pay were a joke and just the kind of thing that makes me despise politics.

Gavin Young

March 1, 2010, 10:41 pm

This has gotta be the most useless thing the EU has done.... what a waste a time....

Its like a Witch hunt or something against microsoft... Are they going to apply the same rules to Apple and OSX with Safari?

Why dont they concentrate on shutting down more of these companies that spam us with emails?


March 1, 2010, 10:43 pm

Looking forward to the Chrome OS version of the browser selection screen when it launches :-P


March 1, 2010, 10:46 pm

I think the EU was absolutely correct in addressing the dominance of MS.


March 1, 2010, 11:17 pm

@ruthless, another vote here for that point of view.


March 1, 2010, 11:23 pm

Note, Avant and Maxathon both use the IE engine, but are fantastic browsers in terms of functionality and customisation.

Flock is supposed to be a social networking type browser, but fails miserably in my opinion. It's features make is sluggish and bloated. As for the others, I've never heard of them before, but may try them out.

Ben 3

March 2, 2010, 12:33 am

Strangely I'm on W7 with IE8 as my default browser and I've yet to see the update. Although I do have both Google Chrome and Firefox 3.6 installed as well


March 2, 2010, 1:38 am

its a pity microsoft dont allow users to purchase a key that activates the beta into full windows.i really dont fancy reinstalling it was ok in the past but now i have 500 gigs that all need to be installed all over again.


March 2, 2010, 1:41 am

Gordon - That is rather disingenuous to suggest that people who have made the conscious decision to choose another web browser other than Internet Explorer are somehow more tech savvy! In fact that's downright insulting!

Like HK, I've tried other web browsers, and to be fair, I actually prefer IE8. It could be familiarity, I don't know?

I'm all for open and fair competition, so I welcome the extra consumer choice. It's a shame that the usually (rightly) discredited EU had to get involved. I believe it should've been consumer power that made Microsoft offer multiple browser options, not the bureaucrats in Brussels.

However, I do feel sorry for those, who just want a basic functioning PC and internet access (the non tech savvy as you may put it), who maybe confused by this issue! Given that IE8 will be the default browser with Microsoft software, then I think that IE8 should've been the first (i.e. the furthest left) option.

I'm not going to blindly defend Microsoft, but I'm old enough to remember the pre-computer days, so I'm grateful that Microsoft came along and transformed our lives!


March 2, 2010, 1:43 am

@betelgeus - Windows Easy Transfer Wizard - simple and works really well.

@niftynigel - That's my opinion, that's yours. We'll have to agree to disagree - simples!


March 2, 2010, 1:46 am

@gordon afaik know file transfer works with documents and libraries are you also saying it works with program files,i was under the impression this was untrue and seeing as my total war collection alone is over 60gb these days let alone everything else.

Lord Comben III

March 2, 2010, 1:51 am

I like the fact they now give people the choice and it is nice to stop some anti-competitiveness I agree with Steve32 when he says that other OS should have this as well


March 2, 2010, 2:42 am

I also have IE8 as my default browser but only use firefox but I know I will not be getting this ballot screen, why? because I simply didn't install that update :P

Sir Stuie

March 2, 2010, 4:01 am

Probably a silly question but if I buy the full package rather than upgrade version can I use it on all 3 computers in my house?


March 2, 2010, 4:07 am

@betelgeus - for me it transferred all desktop files and system settings, plus preferences for all Office programmes and Firefox (since switched to Chrome so dunno how it works with that). I suspect you'll be stuffed with games, but then again - with the style of Total War and shut downs every 30 mins you're already stuffed!

I've a lot in the Cloud - Google Apps and Dropbox + a home NAS for media made things fairly simple all in.


March 2, 2010, 4:26 am

just a question, does choosing a different browser remove IE8 from the computer? i hate when certain programs insist on opening webpages in my non-default IE8 when chrome or firefox can both do the job perfectly fine


March 2, 2010, 4:27 am

Sir Stuie ... yes it is a bit silly... we're talking MSFT here, so one licence per package and strict activation.There is the three licence Family Pack, which is better value, though that's only available in upgrade form. Since I was using the RC I opted to do the clean install on my netbook (it had an OEM XP licence, but no remaining trace of XP) and then hit a problem with activation. MSFT did sort this out but told me because it was an upgrade licence I should have followed the upgrade option on the installation screen ... but I didn't think there was an upgrade path for XP (and I'd have wanted to do a clean install anyway). I still don't really know whether I did something wrong or something's just not been thought through.

As for the ballot screen ... I also think the UI of IE8 is pretty good, but in all other respects wouldn't touch it with a bargepole. On the other hand the persistence of the abomination that is IE6 is argument enough for the ballot screen and the EU should be thanked for forcing action. But Gordon, if you like the speed of Chrome then just go for Opera 10.5 - it's faster and has a far more usable and flexible interface


March 2, 2010, 4:43 am

stuie it is pretty much a given that one license for 1 pc,upon install your hardware is checked,although if your lucky some oems supply windows that requires no online registration,had one for xp in the past.

you can buy a family 3 pack,which is ironic as the other post here about browser select was forced by europe therefore making microsoft change code delaying the 3 pack release in uk.

to gordon i pretty much figured what you say would be the case,i would have gladly thrown microsoft £60 for a key to make the beta genuine,now i have to use the work around till i get a long weekend.

still microsoft cant complain theyve had 9 copies of xp out of me.


March 2, 2010, 5:08 am

+1 for windows easy transfer. I recently made the switch from RC to full Pro and it was completely painless. The transfer reports tell you which programs you have yet to re-install which i found very helpful. Regarding games i use steam for pc games and with that you can just copy your whole steam folder over, install the client on your new windows and then copy your folders across and they all work just fine.

Sir Stuie

March 2, 2010, 5:12 am

Cheers guys, I will try picking up the family pack tomorrow if its close to a 3 for 2 price. Otherwise I will seek an alternative.


March 2, 2010, 8:39 am

@Gordon just to point out that the RC restart is once every 2 hours, not every 30 mins: http://support.microsoft.co...


March 2, 2010, 4:00 pm

@peebee, @betelgeus: Didn't M$ stop doing the family pack at the end of last year?, I was tempted to upgrade to W7, but I have more than 1 PC at home, and paying for 3 full licences is just too much.

Sir Stuie

March 2, 2010, 8:28 pm

Your right, spent my lunch hour getting blank looks from young shop assistants. No thank you M$.


March 3, 2010, 2:40 am

@Charles - 2 hours initially, and then every 30 minutes. Same for the betas as well as the RC.

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