back to article Win 7 users shout: Where's my bloody ballot screen?

Several Register readers have been in touch because their early installations of Windows 7 have not come with a ballot screen offering them a choice of browsers to download. Earlier this month Microsoft and the Commission agreed to provide a ballot screen offering users a choice of browsers in the form of a ballot screen in …


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  1. MarkOne

    Backed down or paid off?

    Either way, EU Comission achieved nothing, every Windows 7 system has IE8, and developers can opt for the lazy code option of assuming IE being present.

    What a crock.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still a stupid idea

    Who cares about this silly scheme anyway? The whole thing is a daft idea, if you don't like Windows either remove it and put some Linux freetard nonsense on your PC or buy a Mac. Simples.

  3. eugene

    i want...

    ... a browser ballot screen for the iphone/ipod touch!

  4. Anonymous Coward

    No doubt

    no doubt opera will be getting their knickers in a twist, they think the ballot should be included in all european versions, from release, and that the ballot should have an 800x600 opera badge as the only thinkg on screen, and 1400 click through options to be able to find the other 4 browsers

  5. magnetik

    Re: Still a stupid idea

    "Who cares about this silly scheme anyway?"

    I think you'll find pretty much every web developer alive cares. Companies should care too. Having to spend extra development time on a site to make it work properly in IE means extra cost.

    The only thing forcing Microsoft to obey web standards is the fact that they're losing market share to other browsers.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And when...

    Will apple be forced to do the same to give people a choice other than Safari?

    Oh. forgot bundling things with apple OS's is good but bundling things with windows OS is bad.

  7. Dave Ross


    poor things, is deciding which browser to install by themselves too difficult?

  8. Rusk

    Why in the first place??!!?

    I have never understood why people are moaning in the first place. Windows is a Microsoft product so it should be expected to come with other Microsoft products!!! I don't go and buy an Audi and demand a choice in either a BMW, VW, MERC, etc steering wheel!

  9. brimful

    @AC 14:57

    Whilst I couldn't agree more, I have a correction to make:

    "if you don't like Windows either remove it and put some Linux freetard nonsense on your PC or buy a Mac" should be rewritten to "if you don't like Windows either remove it and put some Linux freetard nonsense on your PC or install an Apple OS". The only reason I say that is because we in the IT business all know that a Mac is an Apple branded PC. And this is especially true since Apple have started to support Win 7.

    Apple should really say "Hi I'm a PC and I'm no different in hardware architecture than a microsoft PC".

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Browser maker Opera has already said..."

    " is unimpressed with the choice screen option.".

    Could say the same with the IE8 search engine choice page. Bing is (always) at position 1, and Google is on the 2nd page. Bing always seems to have higher "ratings" than Google too. As long as microsoft are the creators of the menu, the menu's will always try to discourage you from using the biggest competitor.

  11. Samuel Walker

    @AC 14:57

    A browser choice does not have to mean an operating system choice.

  12. Anonymous Coward


    "EU Comission achieved nothing"

    Well, they got me a full version of Win 7 on the cheap, so I'd have to say "bollocks".

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Freetards, arm your flame throwers

    Bloody Firefox is forced on us Ubuntu users. I want a ballot screen on there too!

  14. Anonymous Coward

    @AC 14:57

    While I may not like Microsoft's particular brand of paytard nonsense I do have to have a copy on one of the test machines, however the thought of running IE on it terrifies me and none of our stuff makes allowances for it, gave up @ IE6 and none of my users have complained. That said I wouldn't attempt to do my Dev work on a Windows box.

  15. ChiefWiggum
    Paris Hilton

    Why ?

    Who are these users?, come on show yourselves !

    Its not that hard to install another browser!

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Have a pop at Apple!

    What the hell has this got to do with Apple OS-X?!

    Oh yes, the beard strokers, baseement dwellers have just got out of bed and and the Windows fanbois have just got home from school! They need to use another opportunity to have a pop at Apple, even though this thread is supposed to be about deficiencies in everyone's supposedly, favourite OS!

    Grow up you lot!

  17. SirTainleyBarking

    Is it really that difficult

    To download Firefox / Opera / Safari onto a PC. I have all three on both my Xp and Vista Laptops.

    as well as IE8. Took very little time to do with a very slow broadband link. Hell I've even loaded Opera onto a Win98 machine using DIALUP

    Very useful when IE8 doesn't work and refuses to open links, and is behaving like a badly written shonky piece of tat.

    I think there are bigger issues that need to be fought here, and browser choice isn't one of them

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo


    This is crazy, Microsoft add a feature to their OS because people wanted it, and people complain to the point of legal action. If my TV came with a free Bluray player (when HD-DVD was still and option) would it have been fair for the HD-DVD consortium to take Toshiba to court?

    I can remember having to download Internet Explorer and the TCP/IP stack and was grateful when they bundled a browser. I’ve used Firefox, Opera, Chrome, etc and only really liked chrome – for it’s speed, I do like Internet Explorer. There! I’ve said the un-sayable, I like it. I prefer it. Not everyone is going to jump to the freetard wagon just because a huge amount of money was wasted forcing MS to offer other companies products – a lot of people WILL STILL CHOOSE INTERNET EXPLORER!

    I need to print off the content of websites as part of my job (don’t ask) and IE’s conversion of a webpage to a print page is mile ahead of any of the other browsers.

    What is even crazier is that the other browsers are free! How is giving something away free anticompetitive to other free products?

    MS have a larger browser market share than all the other browsers put together and yet the complaint is that they don't conform to standards. What sort of standard is created that isn't support by the clear market leader... a sub-standard!

    Another thing that makes me laugh about this is that the vast majority of the installations of alternative browsers on Windows PCs were facilitated by browsing to their websites using… that’s right – good old IE!!! It actually facilitated them obtaining their market share.


    Do you honestly think the end user gives a flying fart about web standards? If people are moving to other browsers, the majority are moving for speed, features, or look and feel NOT compliance with a web-standard.

  19. Adam Salisbury

    Again I ask, what does it matter anyway?

    They're all free browsers and aside from the developer's nightmare of coding for multiple browser standards who's making money and who therefore, cares?

    As so many people have pointed out previously FF with Linux, Safari with OSX, IE with Windows and presumably Chrome with ChromeOS! Opera won't be happy until a new OS they can have their browser bundled with comes out.

    And I'd still uninstall it!

  20. Anonymous Coward

    @ 'Why in the first place??!!?'

    Instead of declaring your ignorance to antitrust issues, you could have googled it and educated yourself.

  21. Keith Oldham


    "I have never understood why people are moaning in the first place. Windows is a Microsoft product so it should be expected to come with other Microsoft products!!! I don't go and buy an Audi and demand a choice in either a BMW, VW, MERC, etc steering wheel!"

    Maybe not but we do expect a car to be roadworthy and conform to standards for everyone's benefit and clearly IE doesn't as pointed out on numerous occasions and, most recently, by magnetik above.

  22. Chris 12

    Not applicable to apple

    To all the idiots who keep saying that it's not fair that apple don't get the same treatment.

    Ms is a convicted monopolist. They are legally obliged to not use their market share unfairly.

    They must follow different rules to the rest.

    Get over it and shut up!

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Too late

    This decision needed to be made before windows 7 or it is without any point.

    Why are so many people against having a choice in browser on their new PC rather than being pushed into IE and by default a lowered security position.

    As for the Anon Coward who says FF is forced on us Ubuntu users is plain wrong, i got at least 3 on there by default.

    Also why are the people so vitriolic about windows hiding behind AC.

  24. ElReg!comments!Pierre

    Windows updates... clever...

    So, I guess that it will be a critical update, just as WGA... or not?

    I'm guessing not many people will ever see the ballot screen at all, lost in the "non-important, don't even bother to look at it, you don't want it anyway, honest" updates. Heck, MS might even create a special category just for this one...

  25. BenDwire Silver badge

    @AC 15:47

    Just delete it using the package manager, tw@t. You can then install whatever you like.

    As an exercise, try deleting IE using add/remove programs in Windows. Not so easy, huh? AFAIK the ballot screen will be/is the only way to delete IE.

    I personally couldn't give a toss about this ballot idea, but if it helps us towards a single web standard, then that can only be a good thing.

    Wake up, lazy programmers. It's time to assume IE ain't there.

    {Beer icon to douse the flamebait! - We need a bucket of water icon!}

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Which planet?

    @magnetik: "I think you'll find pretty much every web developer alive cares. Companies should care too. Having to spend extra development time on a site to make it work properly in IE means extra cost."

    So you think having a ballot to let people choose alternative browsers will close down IE8? Most companies of any size won't care - they're still using IE6 or 7 on XP...

    Paris, for the air in her head.

  27. nickrw

    XP and Vista too?

    Am I the only person who thinks this is going to confuse the hell out of anyone who isn't expecting it on an existing system (Read: Joe PC User)? I'm all for it on a new system during first start up, but serving it through windows update to *all* IE users seems like a bad idea.

    I know plenty of users who will just click wildly to get rid of any dialogue they don't understand (not that they stopped to read it in the first place) who will demand to know "where their internet has gone".

  28. Ken Hagan Gold badge


    "I think you'll find pretty much every web developer alive cares. Companies should care too. Having to spend extra development time on a site to make it work properly in IE means extra cost."

    Splendid argument, except that you won't get the ballot unless you are the sort of person who lets Windows Update do its stuff, in which case you'll already be running IE8. Anyone who never patches their system won't get it. Anyone who's browser choice has been forced by a sadistic admin won't get it.

    This measure won't do anything to move users off IE6 or IE7, and I'm guessing that whilst IE8 has issues, in strict mode it doesn't cause "every web developer alive" much more bother than any other browser. As ever in computing, the lawyers have come to their decision several years after the damage was done and their remedy is a complete waste of time.

  29. Inachu


    I do not like anything running after windows is finnished installing.

    I do not need a intro to ANYTHING!

    Perhaps a ballot window with the following choices:




    This way when I choose expert then windows will not guide me through anything

    as I will know what do to and how to take care of my own business and no balloon popups!

  30. Hugh McIntyre

    Re: Re: Still a stupid idea

    @ magnetik:

    Web developers need to code/test for IE regardless at the moment, because even if some people use other browsers, a large bunch of people use IE. Just like web developers really need to test for Firefox as well (except for limited company-internal deployments).

    @ AC 15:47:

    The complaint is not from end-users (who are quite capable of installing Firefox or Linux, for those who care). Instead, the complaint all along is from other browser vendors (Netscape and now Opera) who feel that Microsoft's 90% lock on the OS market is a fact of life and that they want to be able to sell/provide browsers to the Windows users.

    The original complaint was based on "browser not being part of the OS", so that Dell might provide a different browser from HP for example. To a large extent based on systems such as Windows 95 not coming with a web browser at first. And the fact that the original "IE bundled/free" decision was part of what put Netscape out of business (also Netscape 4.x being buggy...).

    Nowadays, every OS ships with some browser at least, not least because people who want to install Firefox mostly don't want to type "ftp" on the command line.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Wot no Shrills?

    Is it a coincidence that the first article in any way relating to the ballot screen *after* the final release of Windows 7 has gone from a now-traditional major flooding of shrills slagging off Opera within minutes of its publication to absolutely zero, at least this at this point?

    It's as though the product is out now and the matter is as settled as it's going to be, so shrill resources have been redeployed to other projects. Bit like the troops in iRaq™.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Where is Windows 7?

    Never mind the ballot screen, my student mates (it's OK - they're the type that wash) inform me that downloading the thing in the first place is a nightmare. Apparently it was fine until the Yanks woke up and now all of their downloads are stuck part-way.

    See earlier Reg article about why Digital River is more of a trickle...

  33. alun phillips


    We linux types assume you can work out how to install your own choice of browser... Bloody GUI freaks whats wrong with a command line browser

  34. BearFace


    Who wants a bloody ballot? In the bloody time it took you to bloody complain that there was no bloody ballot, you bloody could have bloody downloaded your bloody browser of bloody choice.

    EU going to go after Apple for forcing iCrapTunes a iCrapSafari on users anytime soon?

  35. Anonymous Coward

    Real money out of peoples pocket

    I'm with Dave Ross on this , if you don't like IE then just change it ( with gloves on if you feel you have to ) all you have to do is go to the browser supplier of your choice and download it , on one test machine I've got IE, Firefox, Opera,Safari and Chrome on it . Just what is the big deal about changing your own browser ??

    If the EU really wanted to get it's knickers in a twist about something - that is actually costing people money, and at the end of the day it is everyone - then they would be looking at the market abuse Google is getting away with , with the fees it charges for AdSense.

  36. Kwac

    @Anonymous Coward - 14.57

    I agree completely!

    I intend to join you and refuse to utilise the resources of any company that utilises 'linux nonsense', or any other freetard crap.

    That's me fooked on tinternet then.

  37. Lupus


    I don't understand these reactions.

    Surely if you're aware of alternative browsers, you don't need a ballot screen. Or, am I missing something fundamental here?

  38. Charlie Clark Silver badge


    Spot on.

    I am very much looking forward to the day that the company I advise can mandate "HTML 4.01 Strict, CSS 2.1, RSS 2.0.1" rather than "must support browser X, browser Y, browser Z, browser XX" Standards are cheaper for content managers.

    @ "The Average American"* <- you're all European rejects so shut up and eat the bible as we're not interested.

    * doesn't, of course, exist.

  39. James O'Brien


    When will this shit end? Or when will this shit be applied to other companies (cough Apple)? Seriously until the standards are applied to everyone then all this looks like is something tailor made for M$ and no one else. Oh well.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    smoke and mirrors

    Surely the EU should be getting Microsoft to remove the browser completely when users opt for something else.

    If I want a windows update, I should be able to get it via Firefox or Opera.

    Internet Explorer should NOT BE a part of the operating system.

    If it is, the whole thing is a sham.

    Paris, because I wouldn't mind browsing her operating system.

  41. Paul 129


    @magnetic: You appear to be running internet explorer, this does not conform to web standards (link to acid test) to fix this and view this site properly pls install google chrome wave (link), we all need to do this for sanitys sake....

    @others: As far as antitust monopoly violations are concerned, until MS is broken up they will continue. MS has always paid its way out of legal issues, cause its a MONOPOLY!

    It can and will force you to pay more for things that you never had to pay for in the past, AGAIN!

    Ultimately it can charge whatever it bloody well feels like! [IAMS] ITS A MONOPOLY, STUPID!

  42. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Re: XP and Vista too ?

    Yes, and 7 and 8 as well. Let me clarify that curious statement, but first...

    "Am I the only person who thinks this is going to confuse the hell out of

    anyone who isn't expecting it on an existing system (Read: Joe PC User)?"

    Absolutely not. The consensus here seems to be that anyone who understands the issue has probably already moved away from IE and everyone else won't budge. But I've already said the lawyers are idiots.

    "I'm all for it on a new system during first start up, but serving it through

    windows update to *all* IE users seems like a bad idea."

    Confusing, yes, but in practice end users never *see* new systems. When an OEM configures the disc image for his "new" systems, given half a chance he'll make the choice for his users (to "enhance" their "out of the box experience"). Pushing it out through Update might actually be the only way to hold the ballot back until the real end-user is looking at the screen, which the article notes is likely to be a legally binding requirement on MS, for all their OSes.

  43. Matthew Ellen

    @AC 2009-10-23 23:34

    "Paris, because I wouldn't mind browsing her operating system."

    What does that even mean? How does one browse an operating system? Paris's operating system? Her software that allows her to run other software? Her central nervous system? If the latter, then you are a very strange person. If the former, I didn't realise Paris had released an OS. Where can I download it? Is it proprietary or open source? Lets hope it doesn't come bundled with IE.

  44. Greg J Preece


    "MS have a larger browser market share than all the other browsers put together and yet the complaint is that they don't conform to standards. What sort of standard is created that isn't support by the clear market leader... a sub-standard!"

    That has got to be one of the stupidest things I've ever read. Worse than BBC tech reporting.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    smoke and mirrors?

    err, if IE isn't part of of the OS how am I supposed to download FF?

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Installed Safari

    Then realised it was shit and uninstalled it.

  47. raving angry loony

    same old same old.

    So yet again Microsoft has managed to circumvent the regulator. IE8 is still built in to the operating system, they can force people to use it when it suits them (such as for Windows Update), and NOTHING HAS FUCKING CHANGED.


  48. Anonymous Coward


    Funny that people who don't have a clue about market dominance, tying commerce and anti-competitive business practices are always the first commenting on this issue. The upcoming ballot screen and furthermore the ability to wipe out IE from your OS is a God given gift. IE6 is still giving us -web developers- nightmares.

  49. MarkOne


    to the only chance we had of everything ever working with everything. Clearly alot of people here don't get it. It's not about ballots, or how much other browsers don't cost, or how easy it is to download and install.

    it's about what the OS ships by default. As long as Windows is tied to Internet Explorer, developers will always will fall back to the "just open it in IE" excuse when things don't work. IF Windows7 never came with IE, then developers would have at least nedded to consider those of use that "picked the right option in the checkboxed" rather than the wrong one that says IE.

  50. Saucerhead Tharpe

    How hard is it to understand why Microsoft is different?

    Microsoft is a convicted abuser of power.

    They have used their power to trample competition.

    THAT IS WHY the rules are different for them, not envy or jealousy but because Microsoft have been taken to court and found guiloty of abuse of power

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Really damn amazing that there are still people on an IT site who think this is about fair browser choice, or use it to take a crack at Apple (who I have no love for, but aren't big enough in this area to have a negative effect). It really is very embarrassing.

    It doesn't matter how easy it is to go download browsers, the vast majority of users won't. IE is a poor browser, but most websites out there still are designed for it because its wide use. This ruling, while unfortunately making Opera (a great innovator in browsers) look like a bunch of babies, is at least something that will force MS to think a little harder about web standards. I am regularly forced to use IE to do things I can't in Opera or Firefox. I shouldn't have to. That shows there's a problem. This might help fix the problem. If you have a better idea, speak up, this ballot screen does leave much to be desired.

    And when did using anything free get you labelled a "freetard"? Suppose I should stop drinking tap water at restaurants, would hate to be called a freetard even though I prefer it to soda!

  52. Adrian Esdaile

    Ballot screens for Apple too!

    Where's the browser ballot screen in MacOSX?

    I want to install NETSCAPE 1.2 and it won't let me! ANTIRUST! ARRRRGH!!!!1111one11!!eleven

  53. elderlybloke

    Smoke and mirrors

    Yes AC, that is the important thing. The ranters above have failed to notice that.

  54. Mike Bird 1

    Choices .. .choices

    Dialog box pops up ..

    You have the choice now of downloading/installing another web-browser.

    Its up to you.

    [A - you have IE Installed - do you want to keep it?]

    (ps some features/functions may not work without IE)

    [B - take time to download and install <browser X>]

    (ps this will take a while)

    95% of people will stick with the Keep what they Have.

    The other 5% (highly IT oriented) will have Mozilla/whatever installed anyway.

    This completely ignores the CORPORATE environment, most of whom are on IE 6 or IE 7 for software compatibility reasons and DO NOT want their staff (or permit their staff) to mod their company computer.

  55. TeeCee Gold badge

    Re: smoke and mirrors.

    OK, now name a modern OS aimed at the end-user which does not come with at least one browser bundled as standard, or are you a "one law for us, one for them" type?

    Oh and you shouldn't need a browser to get updates at all. In fact you don't in the MS world since Vista, it just took them a while to catch up with the right way of doing things. Personally I'd be deeply unhappy with any OS where the update process was handled by something that the distributors did not have control over. That astonishingly dumb suggestion's got "pwn me please" written all over it.

  56. Paul Hates Handles

    I have to say...

    ...I'm diggin' Win 7 right now. I had a brief problem with UAC sticking it's oar in every time I opened Firefox but that little bitch is turned the hell off and now it's smooth sailing.

  57. Alien8n

    @ the standtards

    Ok, why is it important that IE conforms to web standards?

    Because otherwise you get the issue we have with a website written in "standard" MS compliant code ( with sql backend on win2003 and IIS6).

    And yet we still have issues due to a bug in IE8 that still hasn't been fixed by MS. Yes, IE8 doesn't work with a website designed to be fully compliant with it. Ironically the site was never designed with other browsers in mind but works 100% in all other browsers except IE8 for which it was actually designed for.

  58. alistair millington

    Too late for the browser choice.

    W7 is pants anyway, so why care about the browser, you should be more worried about the money you just spent on an OS. As an IT support, I fear for my future sanity having to support this turkey. The network / homegroup farce alone scares me.

    RE: The browser choice, good idea but now the W7 cat is very definitely out the bag (well for some, I think most end users will see a bonus from vista, most professionals will realise it ain't), it will only cause grief for all concerned when they get another question that pops up. As most end users ignore the messages like "Your AV has detected a virus." You think they will care about the "New browser option." MS knows this and as a result the EU will look stupid when they force it out. Though the ballot screen will indeed force M$ into at least recognising the international web standards.

    @AC 23rd October 2009 15:47 GMT

    Ubuntu comes with two browsers when I last looked, firefox is the main one but there is the other one in the menus, sea monkey I think it is called. Or something equally silly.

    Ubuntu comes with more than one for most things, like word editors, picture software etc. Your choice as to which you use.

    Try using your software instead of sounding like a tool.

  59. Anonymous Coward

    Does it really matter???

    Jesus some of you people need to get a grip on reality. Its a browser FFS. People arent bullied into using IE. I've used it for years and no-one from MS has ever been to my house with a pointy stick to make sure im using it. Its a choice. People who dont like IE will find another browser.

    Also im willing to bet that most of your first encounters with the WWW were using IE.

    STFU & GTFO - Nothing to see here.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC Fanboi 14:57

    Since you don't like "Freetard" software perhaps you should vote with your feet and stop commenting on The Reg since it uses Apache. Really I've had enough of you idiots who aren't in a proper IT job commenting on things you know nothing about.

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    EU missed the ball...

    ... completely! It would be FAR more significant if Microsoft supplied relevant technical data for other systems to integrate with, say, something called Active Directory. Now that would be interesting, wouldn't it? Samba integrating with AD in a meaningful way. But what did they pursue? The browsers. Ye godz...

    BTW I used FF for several years exclusively but 3.5 is slow and I've been using IE8 for months without problems. I actually LIKE it! If Mozilla ever wants to see any products on one of my clients' networks, they'd have to provide ADM/ADMX files so I could manage them with Group Policy. Come to think of it, FF would be the only one to consider 'cause when you're on Windows, there's no better client than Outlook if you happen to be a corp.

  62. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Not designed for IE

    "IE is a poor browser, but most websites out there still are designed for it because its wide use."

    Except they aren't. There's an existing base of ones designed for IE6, and very few designed for IE8. IE8 isn't IE6 compatible without manually checking a compatibility box, AND it's not standards-compliant. So new pages either are designed for "lowest common denominator" (so they'll work with about anything) OR for standards compliance (since this'll work with Opera, Firefox, Safari, Konqueror, basically everything *but* IE8.)

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Smoke and Mirrors 2

    To all the ignoramuses who don't know the difference between an application (Firefox, Opera) and something like IE which is current part of the operating system (Should not have to be).

    Can I suggest you have a look in your add/remove programs and aliases and let me know where you found it!

    Paris, I still want to browse your operating system.

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