EJM Designs Limited Blog

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Microsoft Forced to Let Europe Choose Browser

From the Telegraph:
From today, people running Microsoft's Windows operating system will be presented with a screen asking them to choose which web browser they would like to use.
...
Microsoft was forced to introduce the browser "ballot box" following a ruling by the European Commission that Microsoft's practice of pre-installing Internet Explorer on every new computer was anti-competitive. The Commission accepted Microsoft’s offer of rolling out the ballot box across its range of Windows machines, which it believes will make it easier for computer users to choose an alternative browser to Internet Explorer.

"Millions of European consumers will benefit from this decision by having a free choice about which web browser they use,” said Neelie Kroes, the EU's competition commissioner.
My first thought was "Sure, that makes sense. Microsoft has a basic weight advantage that's been shouted about for years. They load IE on their machines and people don't know the difference."

But that's the problem; most people don't know the difference. And they don't care. I worked with my parents for over a year before they decided that Firefox was an important innovation in their browsing experience. And even then they weren't impressed. Just something different to complicate things.

My Take

I was feeling for the decision until I read "Millions of European consumers will benefit from this decision by having a free choice about which web browser they use."

Wrong.

Every single American and European and Asian and EVERYONE has a decision to make about what browser they will use to view the internet. Browsers are free. If you're ignorant about that, then you're simply ignorant about that.

I'm not a Microsoft fan (and program open source), but I appreciate the place and service they provide for regular users of computers. Yes, it sucks that Windows is the only way most people know how to use a computer. But Windows is the only way most people know how to use a computer! And if it comes down to it, I'd prefer more people in the world are computer and web-literate than not.

So for me, the question of this article comes down to: Is it up to Microsoft to let people know that different browsers are available? That they don't have to pick MSIE every time?

I don't think so.

I'd guess most people who have to look at that "ballot box" will know one logo and pick that. Because if they didn't have the choice, they would just deal. And if they knew better, they'd download the browser they wanted to download. Simple as that.


It's not their job to inform the public of the options; it's mine. It's ours.

As a developer, you design for Firefox and fix for IE. Because IE is (still!) not as compliant on the basic W3C basics as others are. I've heard Opera is the most compliant, but Google doesn't support Opera. (I know: boo!)

So the basic users? Probably IE. Because it's there.

Only we can tell them there is something better out there.

Thoughts?

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