back to article Microsoft spits out 'browser choice' update to appease EC antitrust probe

Microsoft will begin asking European Union citizens which web browser they wish to use on Windows-based computers from today. The software giant is giving its customers a choice of 12 surfing tools - including its own Internet Explorer browser - after agreeing a deal with the European Commission that has been probing Microsoft …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ""The results... indicate that nearly three quarters (between 70 and 81 percent) of internet users in these countries are not aware of the browser choice screen coming their way," claimed Mozilla."

    So? Whether they are aware of it in advance or not is irrelevant. They are still going to get it.

    I don't generally side with Microsoft, but in this case it seems they have done everything that's been asked of them. It's not clear what else Mozilla think MS should do, other than issue Firefox as a critical update. In the last 12 months the Mozilla Foundation have gone from being a relativeely sane voice in the browser world to being whingier than Opera.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      I vaguely remember...

      ... Microsoft being convicted in a U.S. court of monopolistic practices relating to Internet Explorer.

      I think it was 10 years ago but I must be going senile - it'd be stupid to imagine they'd just have been able to carry on and get away with it ever since.

      wouldn't it?

  2. this

    Looks dodgy

    That pop-up looks like a poorly executed rogue pop-up. No microsoft branding etc. my first reaction was - what the hell's this? malware? My first instinct was to close it and run a malware check and berate myself for visiting some dodgy website.

    Then it dawned on me it was the Microsoft EU thing come to pass - but I wonder if plenty of other people had the same reaction I did. Inspired visual design I'd say

    1. Lionel Baden

      same here

      I had a user call up as i asked them to open a browser they said this had popped up !

      I thought they had a bug on their system. had to look the address up myself to check it

      I Wonder how long it will be till people start emulating that window to get people to install malware when they think they are installing firefox.

      And even though i like firefox i only see problems ahead as people start moaning why doesnt this browser do this my old one did ....

      p.s. incase nobody has seen it for themselves

      It was the .eu address that made me think malware

      1. LinkOfHyrule

        I give it 7 days

        I give it 7 days before we hear of the first mal-wear pop-up scam seen in the wild that tries to mimic this ballot screen thingy. Probably a lot sooner knowing the mal-wear makers.

        "Please choose your new Browser - you can chooze either- hackzilla, interwebz-bankaccountexplorer, goolies-pwned or botnet-safari-park"

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seen it

    Arrived in my updates list on Vista, told it to go away and not bother me again.

  4. Gordon 10

    What were the criteria for the smaller 6?

    Honestly there were some real randomers in there - Slim, Green Browser. The major qualification seems to have been an audience in Asia - WTF>

  5. Adam 10
    Thumb Down

    So, which is best?

    I've not even heard of a few of the browsers in the list... I've tried Safari, IE, Firefox and Opera but will look at the other options just to see if they offer me any benefit... But many people will think their PC has been infected by a virus.

    Including the option of an Apple browser (safari) seems dodgy, seeing as they already force it onto unwitting iPod owners through iTunes - this seems a far more dubious practice than bundling a browser with the OS!

    Dunno why they have ordered the list to put "The Big Four" + Safari on the front page, with the other 7 off to the right. Would seem more fair if they randomly ordered all 12.

    1. Lionel Baden

      other browsers

      I actually tried out maxthon.

      Well made browser love the split window view for pages V.good for widescreen monitors.

      But no flash support :( :(

      pity, might of possibly found a replacement otherwise.

      Oh and needs more english on its add ons page i cant read chinese ?? japanese ?? i dont know

    2. Semihere
      Gates Horns

      Here here...

      It should definitely be completely random! What a load of crock it is when they more or less guarantee the 'top' browsers all to be shown every time - kills the potential market for the little guys.

  6. Robert Carnegie Silver badge


    On the one hand, you don't expect to make important choices about future use of your computer during a Windows Update operation.

    On the other hand, if it looks like a piece of malware offering to give you new free software, evidence is that very many people will embrace it enthusiastically. The Internet is giving me free things! Hooray!

    But next time they try to web browse, they may not enjoy !the experience. Why does Control Shift R not work any more!

    Example: around when the British Gas (heating) monopoly was broken up, I got a letter saying I'd chosen to switch to let's say the Bolivian Marching Powder & Domestic Fuel Company, which I hadn't. Dopey British Gas sent me that letter right at the end of a four week change-your-mind period and so I couldn't say no. Apparently I had to wait a year before they could reverse it and recognise the real contract, and also put my Member of Parliament onto them. I didn't get a bill from the Bolivian Marching Powder Company and I ended up paying for a year's fuel in a hurry later. But what if British Gas was responsible for the entire experience? They had me as customer for a year when I couldn't choose to switch to a real gas supplier. Maybe two years if they legally got to keep me for that long afterwards.

    Arrange for the customer to have a bad experience with your competitor (if you can), and they'll be glad to stay with you.

    1. nickrw

      Re: Equivocal


      You know ordinary folk who use keyboard shortcuts?

  7. smudge

    Not today...

    ...they started issuing the update last week. Last Wednesday according to the update history on my machine.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sort of.

      The update went out from last tuesday IIRC, but it wasn't due to activate until today. So you're half right.

      1. Test Man


        It went out on Tuesday and also was active on the same day (as I got it on all PCs that I use, XP and Vista). So he's completely right.

        1. smudge

          Thank you!

          Thank you, Test Man. Even after 30+ years in the IT industry, I retain sufficient sanity to know that I came across the thing last week and not today. Issued sometime on Tuesday on the US West Coast, picked up by me in the UK on Wednesday morning - sounds about right.

          If it wasn't due to activate until today then they screwed up.

  8. Ocular Sinister


    Way, way, way too late to be relevant. If the EU was actually on the ball, they'd be taking a long hard look at Silverlight and whether they are trying to use the same trick to force Silverlight on us all. *shudder*

  9. Col

    It's not even particularly random

    Good analysis here:

  10. SteveK

    Any way to block?

    Has anyone found any registry key or other method for business users to block this update as MS commonly do with new versions of IE etc? I'm not using WSUS and the users machines are locked down so they won't have any way to install any browser other than what we provide anyway (except for Chrome, which happily installs without admin rights).

    Additionally, it's badly designed and implemented. It looks like malware and is sure to be copied within days - I'm trying to educate users into not clicking on any box that pops up unexpectedly as I'm fed up with removing Antivirus 2010 or whatever from student computers.

    When I ran it last Wednesday it triggered Sophos into popping up that it was performing suspicious behaviour. And hilariously when I asked it to download another browser (Safari), it took me to the Apple page and popped up a status bar telling me that 'for security reasons, IE had prevented a file from being downloaded'.

    1. Andy ORourke

      Block Updates?

      I saw it offered last Thursday after I ran windows update (Win 7), right click, hide this update, gone


      1. SteveK

        Not simples

        That's fine on a machine or two where you have admin rights - less so to go round to each of >100 machines scattered through different buildings and sites, turfing users off to log in as admin and manually hide the update. Fortunately, MS have at last provided instructions (even if they're not exactly publicising them) on blocking this via a registry key: (for the benefit of anyone else)

    2. Mr Snrub

      Re: SteveK "Any way to block?"

    3. Guus Leeuw

      They are not supposed to be downloadable...

      MS just has to display a box saying what other browsers are available for the OS.

      That IE8 then (sensibly) disabled the download of such browsers is only good on MS.


  11. Havin_it

    Got it, ain't seen it

    The update came through on our Win 7 box last night. Installed and have rebooted a couple of times since, but I haven't been greeted by this contentious dialog, neither at login nor when opening IE8.

    Is this just because I've already got Firefox as default browser? How is it supposed to appear? I'm a little hurt at missing out, even though it's not "for" the likes of me.

    1. nickrw


      "The pop-up window will only appear on screens where users have IE set as their default browser. So the ballot box won't be made available to surfers using, say, Firefox or Safari on their Windows OS."

    2. Captain Save-a-ho

      Is this just because I've already got Firefox as default browser?


      When will we be able to go back to the good ole days of the 3 R's? Does NO ONE read anymore?

      Jeez...for the love of all things techie, PLEASE READ the blasted thing next time.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ..that's a fair few IE variants that I have never heard of before..

    (Google them, a lot of "Trident"-based crapola there)

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Ad much as the FireFox sheep love the bleat.

    It seems your Tech Savvy web server loves Opera more..

    Look at poor old Safari at the bottom there...

    1. Robin

      re: Ad much as the FireFox sheep love the bleat. → #

      "It seems your Tech Savvy web server loves Opera more.."

      Not sure if my web server counts as being tech savvy or not?

  14. Robert Carnegie Silver badge


    E-mail all your users to tell them to ignore it, if that's what you want to do. (Is default browser a per-user choice? I think it ought to be.)

    Yes, apparently if you already have not-IE as your default browser, the ballot will not interact with you.

  15. andrew mulcock
    Thumb Down

    and updates

    So does this mean I do not need IE to run the microsoft update ?

    If I do need IE for that, then I'm not really selecting one over another am I.

    1. Tom Maddox Silver badge

      Christ, not this shit again

      As has been pointed out repeatedly here and elsewhere, Vista and 7 do not use IE to perform updates. Moran.

      1. Rasczak

        Read the article.

        As has been written in the article, the update goes out to XP machines, which do still use IE for Windows Updates, as well.

        And what have young Maasai warriors got to do with this ?

        1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge


          In XP, at least SP3, you can perform Windows Update without browsing to the Microsoft web site each time. Something pops up from the system tray. But the web page has more visible controls and status information.

          1. Rasczak

            XP updates popup

            That only happens if you have automatic updates enabled, it does the same in Vista and 7, and then just gets the essential updates.

            VIsta and 7 allow you to browse the available updates, essential and non-essential, from its own interface that doesn't require a browser, you still need IE to do this on any service pack of XP.

  16. Uncle Slacky

    Explains the IE8 ads on TV tonight

    I wonder how long it took them to find a non-pr0n use for "Private Browsing" mode?

  17. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    As I drove into work this morning

    my speedometer display read "You don't have to drive a Renault - other manufacturers are available."

    Still not quite sure how you can use the concept of "commercial competiton" between products which are given away.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good idea.

    Apart from virtually every intranet i've been on is totally ie-centric, sharepoint barely works out of ie, and unless you have the patience to dip in to about-config and add every domain on the intranet, expect firefox to mericelessly pester you for your domain username and password.

    Then again, i suppose a lot of companies lock their machines down to prevent other browsers being installed.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    You must have a choice

    whether you like it or not.

  20. C Yates

    They should...

    ... point out that it's not malware.

    I vote for a big flashing sign containing a picture of a scantily clad woman wearing nothing but a thin layer of marmite followed by a couple of scrolling marquees to grab people's attention =)

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