back to article Opera alerts EU to hidden Windows browser-ballot

Just when it seemed like Microsoft's European anti-trust tangle on browser choice in Windows was over, trouble is stirring again. Opera Software has told The Reg that it has informed the European Union of a possible problem with a fix that was designed to make Internet Explorer in Windows comply with EU antitrust law. Opera …


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  1. Captain Save-a-ho

    Not that hard to reproduce

    Anyone upgrading to IE8 as part of their Windows Update cycle will see these configuration screens. Surely I'm not the only one who has had to explain why those aren't a "virus" or some "hacker" to less technical relatives or office mates.

    Personally, I think the ballot has fag written all over it. Completely annoying, just like those damn harley riders, and about as useful. Didn't Firefox just hit 30% share? WTF? Opera should stop whining and make a browser people want to use.

    Flame away!

    1. skeptical i

      "ballot has fag written all over it"?

      I assume that in this instance 'fag' refers to cigarettes -- to imply that the ballot should likewise be lit afire -- and is not more tedious homophobia/ ignorance being bandied about under cover of "it's just slang, I didn't mean to denigrate LGBT or any other people, all the kids are saying it, it's just a word, what's the harm" ... right?

      1. David Ward 1

        South Park reference fail

        Fag (Făg) n. 1. An extremely annoying, inconsiderate person most commonly associated with Harley riders. 2. A person who owns or frequently rides a Harley.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "ballot has fag written all over it"

        I assume you don't watch South Park. In season 13, episode 12, the term "fag" is changed in the dictionary to refer to a group of annoying people. In this case, a group of Harley motorcycle riders.

      3. jjbd

        More British English...

        I see you're all from the US and so the South Park reference is obviously it - but for what it's worth:

        In British English fag has two slag meanings I don't think it has in the US, and neither has anything to do with homosexuality or South Park.

        The one you all know about is cigarette; the other is anything which is a pain in the neck to do, because it takes time or is boring or tricky. Having to click through nine screens of browser set up, or then choose a browse on the ballot screen, both definitely qualify as 'a bit of a fag'.

  2. Stephen W Harris

    Easy to replicate

    Just do a reinstall of your machine (eg from the original CD image for home users; in a corporate environment from your slipstreamed SP3 Pro disk) and then run Windows Update. IE8 will now be one of the downloads available...

  3. moylan


    i dial into 3-4 users computers a day to fix things. i'd say about 25%-33% pop up that message when i start to use ie on those systems. there are no other browsers installed on those systems. they just cancel that dialog as it doesn't mean anything to them.

  4. Synja

    I don't see why any of this matters...

    If a corporation wants to bundle their own proprietary software on their own proprietary operating system... I fail to see anything wrong with that.

    Also... I don't see this being intentional, or as the article said, even something the average user would see. Everytime I build an XP machine for a customer, halfway through the updates, I have to configure IE8.

    Microsoft has done quite a few things wrong over the years, but I've never had an issue with what they do on the software side of things.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That is a large part of...

      the problem. Microsoft should have been broken up into three or four companies years ago. I suspect the reason that this hasn't happened is that they have enough politicians on the payroll...Ooops I mean has PROVEN to be honest enough that breaking up the company isn't necessary.

      I'll leave it to you to decide why Microsoft hasn't been broken up into separate companies.

    2. Goat Jam

      MS Tards . . . Attenshun!

      "If a corporation wants to bundle their own proprietary software on their own proprietary operating system... I fail to see anything wrong with that."

      I'm sure this stale old chestnut will be repeated ad nauseum throughout the article comments and the answer will need to be trotted out an equivalent number of times.

      Here it is, in glorious full caps just so you don't miss it;


      For fucks sake, I hope MS pay you well for the shite you are forced to spread, I honestly do.

  5. McMoo

    Moan moan moan

    You don't hear Firefox bleeting the way Opera do.

    Why not?

    Easy: Firefox is a browser people WANT to use. Opera isn't wanted, and only hopes people are duped into installing it on this crappy screen.

    Maybe if Opera took the time spent whining and used it to develop a product people want to use, they'd find people would actively seek out their product, as they do Firefox.

    1. Andrew Norton

      Firefox fanboi fail

      "You don't hear Firefox bleeting the way Opera do.

      Why not?

      Easy: Firefox is a browser people WANT to use. Opera isn't wanted,"

      Except by Mozilla. Without opera, how will Mozilla see new features to put into Firefox?

      The difference is Marketing. with $50M to spend on advertising (got from Google, for adverts) there is a lot of marketing (and a lot of lies in that marketing - 'fast safe secure'? Firefox is none of them, when compared to other browsers)

      1. Atli


        ""(and a lot of lies in that marketing - 'fast safe secure'? Firefox is none of them, when compared to other browsers)""

        You are seriously accusing Mozilla of lying for marketing, after the stunt the IE team pulled a couple of days ago? - Everybody "sugar-coats" their products for marketing, but there is a big difference between covering your own black-eye up with makeup and punching the guy next to you to try and draw attention away from your own injuries. -- Which is exactly what the IE team did to Chrome not three days ago.

        But yea, lets examine those "lies" you mentioned, shall we?

        Fast: Compared to IE? Hell yea. No question. - Compared to Chrome, Safari or Opera... depends on who's current release is younger. -- For evidence, try a Google search. In fact, allow me to get you started... This one, for example:

        -- To the IE fanbois: Yes, IE is slow. IE8 is like an old Mini compared to the high-performance racing-brooms that are the standards-supporting browsers. And IE9 is still like 2 years from being a reality. (By which time it'll be just as slow as IE8 is now, relative to the others.) -- It's the trade-off for Microsoft's business model; catering to the businesses with long-interval releases, rather than to the people, with rapid releases. IE9 would actually do fine (in regards to speed) if released today, but it won't be due to them not wanting minor releases. - It's easier for the business world to deal with software that isn't upgraded to often (see IE6's market-share if you question that sad reality).

        Secure: The internet isn't secure, but in relative terms Firefox is a good choice. As bad people tend to want to hurt as many people as possible with as little effort as possible, the browser most likely to become a victim of an attack is the one with the largest market share... It's an classic argument that you've probably heard a thousand times before, but for good reason. -- But then again, Firefox has a much much faster response time to threats than IE, so you could up it's "security ratio" by a few % just on that. (I'd cite the recent "Aurora" attacks, as an example.) - Relative to it's standards-supporting colleges, Firefox shares a very similar security policy (open-source), with the exception of Opera of course. You'd have a hard time getting a good answer to which is *more* secure.

        Safe: What exactly do you mean? No sharp corners to hurt yourself on? How is this different from "Secure"? (And did they actually use this word?.. I must have missed that particular ad.)

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Yes, Firefox does moan

      Actually, Mozilla have blogged and spoken extensively on the EU/MS case.

      The Mozilla boss blogged a *LOT* about it, and they kept highlighting all sorts of problems along the way.

      So clearly you are just blowing smoke. Pay attention and stop whining about Opera. Mozilla was in fact much more vocal, whereas Opera just answered questions from journalists.

  6. Martyn Breckenridge

    What about....

    What about just clicking the ask me later button?

  7. Gauthier

    Not surprisingly...

    Some issues with this ballot:

    In my experience (Belgian French PCs), it install automatically on PC where IE is not the default browser, and until now is still an optional update (if offered!) for the pc where IE is the default browser.

    On the first page to confirm the internet connection is present (as if they could not detect it...) there is a prominent link on how to restore the IE icons, but to go to the ballot screen you have to scroll down and click on a small lost Ok link.

    On new PC or new user account effectively, the ballot screen when installed manually will be hidden by the IE wizard.

    On the whole I would say Microsoft has taken every possible step to not comply. In fact the current two page process and distribution filters are specifically designed to gain back some of their lost market share.

  8. Tzael

    Give it up

    Lie noted Opera has better things to do with its time than chase Microsoft, but: "I'm a little stubborn on this, I want this thing to work."


    Riiiighhht. Give it up Opera, or more specifically, give it up Håkon. So the ballot screen doubled your downloads, now you've got twice as many people using Opera you tell us. Yet you piddle around with ways to make it look like Microsoft are deliberately trying to screw you over.

    Let me state this clearly: if (desktop) Opera were any good as a browser, we'd all be using it. Some of us unfortunately have to use it from time to time to ensure applications will be compatible with the boss's nephew's Linux desktop that happens to be running Opera. I've even tried using it for a whole month to try and overcome that "it feels different to what I'm used to" scenario. Opera is a failure of a browser, and that is due to no fault by Microsoft.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    "Mommy, I can't see my logo!" FFS.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Fanboy don't get it

      ""Mommy, I can't see my logo!" FFS."

      So MS fanboys defend criminals now?

      Yeah. I thought so. No surprise.

      Or you don't get it's the law which is broken here (to be specific: A court order, which is the law as far as you know).

    2. Anonymous Coward


      Did you even read the article? It clearly states that the IE welcome screen appears on top of the ballot screen.

  10. windywoo

    Not that rare.

    Happens when you first install Windows. I know I probably reinstall Windows more times in a month than most people would in their entire lives but there are more people like me.

    1. Smokey Joe

      No, not that rare at all!

      But that's an OS argument. I won't derail this thread any further.

  11. Anonymous Coward


    After all, anyone who blindly clicks through dialogs without considering what is on them, is as likely to pick the first browser icon they recognise. Which isn't opera.

  12. LAGMonkey

    sigh.... them again?

    "When you've been through the 10 screens of IE settings, you are limited with what you can be bothered doing next."

    And there it is....

    So off Opera, we cant be bothered.

    Why move to Opera when we cant be bothered? Cos we want be bothered.

    Im getting a little tired of Opera's bitching and running home to mother.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      ""When you've been through the 10 screens of IE settings, you are limited with what you can be bothered doing next."

      And there it is....

      So off Opera, we cant be bothered."

      ...because we've just waded through 8 screens of IE setup already?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I like Opera browsers...

    but wish they would give up this very childish conflict.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Laws don't apply to rich people?

      "I like Opera browsers... → #

      but wish they would give up this very childish conflict."

      ... and let MS do whatever they want?

      Laws don't matter if you have enough money?

      Or do you mean that if you are punished for monopoly abuse, the verdict alone is enough, no need to do more?

      Essentially sentence of 5 years in jail is forgotten and you are a free, because that's all there is and nobody have demanded you to be put in jail. Brilliant.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      So pointing out huge flaws is "childish"? Then Mozilla must be very childish indeed, because they were much more vocal in their official blogs than Opera. All Opera basically did was to answer direct questions from journalists.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    what is realistic?

    "Opera’s example, where a Windows XP user has rejected installation of IE 8 for the year it has been available but suddenly decides to install it is not realistic"

    Er, yes, it is. My father just did it (and he's by no means computer-illiterate), by re-enabling updates.

    Perhaps MS are suggesting that my father isn't real? I would take that rather personally.

  15. John Angelico
    Gates Horns

    Colour me cynical...again...

    Quoth Microsoft:

    "the user would need to have IE set as their default browser and have never configured it for use"

    Gee, that sounds like a default install configuration, straight off the DVD.

    Imagine if someone had to re-install their MS-Windows from scratch.

    Or imagine if your IT department had to wipe and re-install your machine

    Or imagine your machine gets hosed by some malware, and you have to re-install.

    Or imagine if you get to 6 months since your last clean install, and MS-Windows has slowed down with a heap of cruft - again - and you get out your discs to re-install - again!

    Since I don't run MS-Windows at home, I have to do more imagining than most, of course. :-)

    1. Rod MacLean

      RE: Colour me cynical...again...

      "Since I don't run MS-Windows at home, I have to do more imagining than most, of course. :-)"

      Your imagination reflects reality almost exactly. Are you psychic?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stop crying

    I like and use opera for about 80% of my web browsing, but their constant wining is starting to get rather old. Chill out Opera.

  17. Iain 15

    Seriously, now

    He even admitted that there were better things he could be doing. I see the solution being worse than the problem, being that the browser choice window is kept 'on top' until it is dealt with. How annoying!

    In the words of the unnamed woman at the sermon on the mount 'Leave it alone, give it a rest'

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Selection screen for everybody

    I do hope MS come out with a revised browser screen, and this time update those machines that aren't running IE as the default browser. Quite a few home users have had their PCs set up by some 'expert' who naturally tends to populate the machine with the software they choose for themselves irrespective of its suitability for a beginner. Why shouldn't these users also be given a choice of browser? Cue the downvotes from those who choose the path of the black and white animal with the stinky rotten fish breath.

    P.S. It certainly looks to me like Opera have nothing better to do than whinge all the time.

    1. Quirkafleeg


      I doubt that.

      Now, about that bundling of Windows…

  19. Anonymous Coward

    That's nothing

    Try changing the default search provider away from Bing; first it's a tiny line of text buried at the bottom of a confusing dialogue, secondly it takes you to a website that is frequently not working.

    1. OffBeatMammal

      "Find more providers"

      there's a clearly labelled choice "Find more providers" in the drop down with the already installed search engines.

      that takes you to a site which I've yet to have fail for me, but YMMV.

      Aly page/site that hosts it's own search provider can also prompt to change the browser ("Find on this page" can also check)

      Opera, Safari, Chrome and Firefox are all harder to change search defaults than IE

      1. Anonymous Coward

        absolute BS

        don't know about the others, but in FF, just click on the logo in the search toolbar and you get a dropdown list of search providers to choose from

        1. Al Jones

          But Bing isn't one of them.

          You have to install it first, and when you go to Tools/Add-ons and type Bing into the "Search all Add-ons", the Bing Search plugin somehow doesn't make it into the "featured" add-ons, you have to click on the "See all results" link to get to it. (Apparently 20,000 people per week are prepared to jump through this hoop).

  20. anarchic-teapot


    "Opera’s example, where a Windows XP user has rejected installation of IE 8 for the year it has been available but suddenly decides to install it is not realistic"

    "Not realistic" meaning they're never going to install it on XP ? Or "not realistic" as in "we always pretend that nobody ever waits a year for our new releases to be sufficiently debugged"?

    What's the situation with Windows 7 (which is still one big security hole with all the stuff you HAVE to run as admin)?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Need a 'none of the above' button!!!

    I continue to use Seamonkey as my preferred SUITE despite mozilla's attempts to destroy the whole point of an integrated solution. The problem *I* am having is that the browser select screen pops up every reboot - and I can't disable it because I can't select Seamonkey!

    1. Richard Mason

      Just delete it

      Easy, just open regedit, go to HKLM/software/microsoft/windows/currentversion/run and delete the key for the popup, it's called "browserchoice.exe" or something similar. You can also delete the file from SYSTEM32 as well.

  22. Al fazed
    Black Helicopters


    is after all Microsoft's forte, is it not.

    I haven't seen mention anywhere yet, of Microsoft's dastardly mean trickery in this "Browser Choice" issue.

    I encountered this Browser Choice while running a Windows Update (manually of course). This sneaky little f*cker pops up a screen just like some virus or malware. It clearly told me that this was my ONLY chance to make a choice of browser preference.

    Since I already had all 4 (?) of 'em, installed, I was rather pissed that Bill's applet was demanding that I re make my earlier choice, again, NOW ! Which one do I want to use ....... forever. Couched in such terms as to make someone less enlightened think that this decision would be irreversible, final, like no going back ..............

    It's simply more of the same old US marketing terrorism tactics that we and the Afgahnis, et al are very used to by now, surely ! You know, treat everybody as if they are stupid and are actually being graced by American intervention, automating everything and pumping shit into some dumb stupid grinning moron, happily stabbing at icons all day long, in the belief that the divine dispenser gives us sustenance rather than a nasty shock.

    The metaphore is internet security, for those without the irony gland.

    Choice ? Good old Opera. Right On !


  23. Spiracle

    New accounts

    "Opera’s example, where a Windows XP user has rejected installation of IE 8 for the year it has been available but suddenly decides to install it is not realistic."

    But it's what you'd see on opening a new XP account or with a fresh XP install, no?

  24. Lee Chong Yew

    Opera has a point

    If a user clicks through the IE8 setup screen, uses IE a bit, closes IE, then notices the choice screen, will they even bother with it? MS would do better for the IE8 setup screen to only appear when and if the user selects IE from the choice screen. The best time to tell a person that he has a choice of browsers is when the person fires up his PC for the first time, and both Opera and MS are aware of the fact.

    Tux, because Linux never forces a browser onto the user.

  25. neverSteady

    If this is highly unlikely?

    Then why has it happened to me on both XP, Vista, and 7?

    The reason, Mr. MS Spokesperson, that someone would install IE8 and not configure it, is rather obvious to anyone that has even an inkling about Windows Security (or lack thereof).

    I install IE8 and never configure it because if I have the latest IE, I am more secure than with earlier versions.

    So this is extremely common MS, don't kid yourselves.

  26. James Cooke
    Thumb Down

    What about new PCs?

    I just installed a fresh copy of Windows 7 and was hit by this? Surely its actually quite a common occurence as Windows prompts you to update as soon as you install a PC which may well be before you start web browsing. As soon as the first service pack goes out this will almost certainly be included in Windows from the start and presumably should be shown before the user starts browsing for the first time.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    Good Grief

    I can't possibly be the only person sick to the back to the back teeth with this shit. The windowed paradigm has been going for years now , even the biggest asshat in the world is capable of brininging windows into focus and managing the interface , let alone cancelling out of an installation of a new browser.

    Here's a radical idea you clearly haven't thought about , rather than riding the hysteria wave one more time , to get your product yet another bounce in the news cycle why don't you try promoting it on it's merits , you know something like "Lets talk about Opera it's the best browser out there" , OK so I have no career as an advertising copyrighter ( or god forbid a journalist !) but I might actually pay some attention to it.

    The last line is a classic , //Lie noted Opera has better things to do with its time than chase Microsoft, but: "I'm a little stubborn on this, I want this thing to work." //

    scrtach that for this:

    // "Truth" noted Opera gets most attention when he bitches about Microsoft , and since he can't think of anything else to do with his time , he "says" "I'm a lot paranoid about this, and since I can't trust people to judge my product based on its merits I'm going to talk about this shit instead"//

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Fail fail fail

      The IE8 welcome screen actually blocks the ballot screen.

      Why are you whining about Opera anyway? It was Microsoft which broke the law.

  28. Daniel Bennett

    Oh grow up.

    OK so the user hasn't updated their IE... so what?!

    If MS didn't have the ballot on a IE page and IE didnt exist, then no one could download the other browsers anyway and thus yet another complaint.

    M$ aren't going to provide a browser install of their competitors in the installation of Windows or this Windows Update. Geez.

    A user will simply click through the box or ask later... and when they get to the ballot screen.. Oh hello.


    If they don't select Opera, get off your high horse and shut the hell up and make a better browser.

    Fools. Utter fools.

    Not once have I liked this screen due to the fact that its not fair to force M$ to support another browser. If M$ have to do this, so do Apple and Linux. Yeah, I went there!


    1. Goat Jam

      Oh yes

      "If MS didn't have the ballot on a IE page and IE didnt exist, then no one could download the other browsers anyway and thus yet another complaint."

      Because a full blown web browser is the only possible way for computers to communicate over the internet, there is no other way. Every geek knows that, right?

      I am so sick of imbeciles trotting out this ludicrous canard, truly I am. Anybody who doesn't understand the basics of networking and protocols really should refrain from commenting. Perhaps the Daily Fail would be a more suitable place to seed with your wisdom.

  29. Lewis Mettler 1

    first you must purchase IE

    Strange that the press still lies about the required purchase of IE.

    Other browsers are not choices for purchase. Everyone must first purchase IE.

    Then and only then can they make a choice of which other browsers they may want to use.

    No doubt every car maker in the world wishes that consumers had to buy their model before other choices could be considered.

    Only fools and idiots can claim that such a bias towards a monopolist is somehow complying with any law. It simply is not. Unless you are selling the products forced to be purchased. Then you too can lie about it.

    1. OffBeatMammal

      you don't have to use Windows either

      IE isn't something you purchase. it's free and made available as part of Windows. There's no download or effort you have to make to get it.

      If you decide you want something different then there's no loss in installing something else, just choices

      1. Anonymous Coward

        IE is paid in full.

        "IE isn't something you purchase. it's free and made available as part of Windows. There's no download or effort you have to make to get it."


        It's paid as part of the MS-OS, it's free" in same sense you get a tank full of gas free when you buy a car, but only a fool would call that gas free, the cost of it is included in the rest of the package.

        Even the download is mandatory and hidden inside "windows update", you can't refuse to download or upgrade IE even if you don't use it for anything. Bullshit again.

  30. heyrick Silver badge

    How hard is this?

    Lie noted Opera has better things to do with its time than chase Microsoft, but: "I'm a little stubborn on this, I want this thing to work."

    I agree with both of them, how hard is this? There are wo very simple choices...

    The hacky quick-fix choice - SetForegroundWindow()

    The logical way-it-should-work choice - only invoke the IE setup stuff AFTER the user has chosen IE...

    The EU should now mandate that Microsoft's browser choice window is now replaced by a browser choice SCREEN. Single tasking (for they have shown it not to work in a multitasking environment, even if - as they say - in a limited scenario, but it shows their attitude in such scenario when the choice screen is hidden by the IE setup stuff). Hey, just think, the extra space will permit two things: 1, a decent plain English explanation of what a browser actually does, and 2, space for each browser company to describe why you should choose that browser over the others. Well, it's better than picking Chrome because "the logo looks like a Simon toy"...

  31. Aaron Guilmette

    Someone tell Opera how this stuff works ...

    It would appear to me that once the IE installation is available, it pops up over *whatever* else is there. If someone had modified the registry and inserted "Notepad" in the Run key to pop it up, it would pop up over the browser selection window upon login. I don't think it's necessarily the intent of Microsoft to intentionally thwart the browser selection--the same thing happens for those of us not in the EU.

    Get over it Opera. You're sounding an awful lot like Netscape used to.

  32. Jason 50


    Is this what Opera has come to? If they had a decent browser that was even mildly popular they wouldn't even be worrying about this. Do you see google pursuing this? Of course not, Chrome ALREADY has a higher market share! Do you see Mozilla pursing this? Once again no, they have a decent market share.

    Opera is a thing of the past, just like Netscape.

    ** The flame cause thats where Opera belongs. **

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Opera popular?

      Opera has 50 million desktop users and another 50 million users of Opera Mini (actual users, not just downloads). Plus all the bundled versions. That's more than 100 million Opera users in the world.

      Firefox has about 300 million.

      So is Opera "mildly popular"? Their desktop market share has been more than doubling every 2 years, so...

      If Opera is a thing of the past, how come it's the dominant mobile browser, and how come it has 50 million desktop users?

      And YES, MOZILLA IS PURSUING THIS. Mozilla joined the complaint, and blogged extensively and officially about it, whereas Opera mostly just answered questions from journalists.

      Can anyone say... FAIL?

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Massaging statistics...

        "So is Opera "mildly popular"? Their desktop market share has been more than doubling every 2 years, so..."

        Interesting way of phrasing. Technically correct, but adds a sort of "je ne sais quoi" that isn't exactly justified by the figures.

        By doubling, you mean half to one to two... though in recent times it has remained steady at 2.1%-2.3%. [ ]

  33. Steve 72


    The ballot should have been this:

  34. andrew mulcock

    windows update

    And when you run windows update, you get asked if you want to make IE your default browser,

    guess what, the default answer is yes.

    until you do not need IE to perform windows update, then this is going to be a problem.

    and MS won't take that option unless forced to, another delaying tactic or good American business policy.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I get this

    I use Opera ... but was rejecting the IE8 download on the automatic updates for ages as I saw no need to install more bloat - for the once in a blue moon that I needed IE, IE6 was fine. So I finally got around to letting IE8 install only a few weeks ago, and after hearing the news that sites are to stop supporting IE6. And I have been getting the same message appear each time I happen to fire it up ever since.. Since I'm an impatient bugger, I just hit ask-me-later, so it keeps coming back... so dismissing out of hand the possibility that normal people are getting this is ridiculous - there are certainly some of us that have only just got around to installing IE8,...

  36. John Tserkezis

    I'm glad I'm not in the EU

    I've used a number of different browsers over the years, and none of them have been IE.

    For XP, and two flavours of Win7, I have never configured IE.

    I have never had to.

    Occasionally I get rouge software that forces IE to start, I get the config dialogue, I dismiss it, I take note of this crappy shlock software that is hard coded to IE and never use it again.

    There's plenty of alternatives, and I'm not going to have my choice dictated to me.

  37. Smokey Joe

    Y'know MS is still obfuscating when...

    ...all they had to do was make the first boot of IE give the same infirmation and options as the ballot screen.

    Click click click. Job's a 'tater.

  38. Anonymous Coward


    They could say to hell with this annoying festering peice of rubbish thats causing me support calls 'Oh this apeared the other day, what is it for?' and the other browser manufactuers compete on their own merits.

    Granted Opera is nice on WinMo but I can think of better things to use on the desktop, starting with telnet. Grow up and make a decent browser and stop relying on using the courts to bully another company into including your rubbish

    1. Anonymous Coward


      The ballot screen was Microsoft's own suggestion, after they were busted breaking the law!

  39. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    Microsoft obeys the *letter* of the law.

    But guess what, tries *everything* to subvert it and cut down the odds that users will stay with the status quo.

    When you want to know a monopolist judge them by their actions, *not* their words.

    Those of you who don't (or perhaps won't) see why this is important think about this.

    How many website were crippled to run *only* with IE6?

    When did IE6 come out?

    WTF are we *still* dealing with the s"^t from that?

    People talk about consumer choices. Microsoft has *also* made choices. To write its own *deliberately* non standards compliant rendering engine.

    Why should *their* choice be *my* problem?

    1. bothwell

      deliberately non standards compliant

      Actually IE6 was the first deliberately _standards_-compliant rendering engine, which is precisely why it crushed shitty netscape so completely 10 years ago. It just wasn't really up to the job of still being in use after a decade when competing against other software with regular update cycles. Would you expect an unserviced banger with thousands of miles to be running like new after 10 years? I think not. IE8 does a much better job of compliancy but still isn't perfect - no current browser is perfect.

      A company promoting their own product on their own platform shouldn't really come as a surprise to anybody. Opera are being really douchey about this.

      1. James Butler

        Is it bliss?

        @bothwell ... that's a serious question. Is it bliss? Your ignorance, I mean. For your sake, I hope it is. Because you look like an idiot when you try to get around it. Your ignorance, that is. Better bone up on your history if you ever hope to appear intelligent when you talk about the MSIE/Netscape lawsuit ... which Netscape won, by the way. Toodles.

  40. OviB

    embarrassing soap opera

    This soap Opera of complaining over and over again for something you clearly are not able to be up to is embarrassing. The pseudo random was not enough pseudo-random, now it is too hidden. There's nothing less than shipping windows with Opera as the only default browser and without any ballot that will make them behave like men.

    Hey Opera guys there: put yourselves together and come with a better v11. I tried my best to use 10.5 and it is ridden of UI problems. At 500MB memory usage with 3 tabs open after few hours of work, Opera is not qualifying to be a credible alternative. That's unfortunate since there are a lot of good things inside there and a lot of polish mixed with very lousy UI decisions. Put yourselves together and fight. If Firefox did that good, you can do better! Complaining to authorities for every single imaginable issue is not the way to gain market share.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      You are the only one I see whining.

      It was Mozilla which pointed out the screen not being random enough, and the ballot screen was suggested by Microsoft themselves.

      It seems that paid Microsoft shills are out in force these days!

      Opera 10.5 works fine, by the way.

      1. The Commenter formally known as Matt


        It seems that the paid Opera shill are out in force these days! and all anon, how about that!

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    RE: How hard is this?

    "The logical way-it-should-work choice - only invoke the IE setup stuff AFTER the user has chosen IE.."

    I'll bet you 10p that the downloading of the other browsers requires IE...

  42. Kevin 6


    I doubt opera will be happy till their Icon is 50X the size of the others and blinking saying PICK ME OR I'LL SUE MICROSOFT AGAIN

    Then they would probably still bitch if someone didn't use their crapy software

    BTW I have opera installed on my pc and have used it a total of 5 times seeing I don't like it and find it takes longer to start and access pages than mozilla.

    I also still have IE 5.0 installed on this PC also seeing I never use the damn thing before anyone calls me a MS fanboy.

    And about linux not forcing a browser last 5 installations of various linux distros I was testing out I almost always had konqueror installed by default(one distro had the option of FF or konqueror), shocked opera hasn't sued the linux distros yet over that. Or even Apple for having Safari installed by default with no opera option.

    I do agree with one thing Lie said

    Lie noted Opera has better things to do with its time than chase Microsoft, but: "I'm a little stubborn on this, I want this thing to work."

    One better thing would make a browser people would want to use. (no offense to the 10 people who use opera)

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Failtroll is fail

      Wait, so what you are saying is that pointing out a flaw in the process where the IE8 welcome screen takes over the ballot screen (which Microsoft suggested), is the same as wanting the icon to be 50x the size of the other ones?

      Also, Opera didn't sue Microsoft.

  43. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    I really, really hope someone form the Opera team reads this!

    Becaue even if the Opera team managed to get the EU to force M$ to have a browser choice screen where the ONLY choice was Opera, I still wouldn't install their junk browser! I'd just cancel the screen, then install IE and Firefox. Opera offers me nothing I actually want or need over the other two. Whilst I'm sure Opera has plenty of fans I say let them install it and the rest of us can make our own minds up, thanks. And what has made me so ant-Opera? The constant whining.

    1. Marcus Aurelius

      Speak for yourself, matey

      I develop websites, and Opera has, whilst not always leading the field in terms of features, it has always been a highly standards conformant browser, and therefore useful for showing up problems that might only come out later when tested with other browsers.

    2. Steve 72

      Try posting...

      ...a valid issue for v10.5x in their forum. Anything short of worship is shot down in flames, or simply removed, classed as "not adhering to the forum terms". Guess the "attitude" permeates the entire culture.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Epic fail is fail

      Actually, the Ballot screen was Microsoft's own suggestion, and it was approved by the EC.

      Opera had nothing what so ever to do with the ballot screen.

      But hey, fail moar.

  44. anarchic-teapot

    To everyone who used the word "whine"

    One man's whiner is another man's courageous militant. Please stop being so arrogant.

    1. PirateSlayer


      Straight laced Kettle meet anarchic-teapot. Both black? Well. Fancy that.

  45. Paul 139

    Not that unusual

    To replicate: Install vista from a pre-SP1 source - for example a factory restore DVD supplied with a 3-year old PC. Patch using windows update until no more updates are available. On the final reboot, the scenario depicted occurs.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Opera lost the race

    I do enjoy using Opera sometimes, but the reason they lost the browser race is because of their refusal to provide any decent API for plug-ins. So quit the damn whining already.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Lost the browser race?

      Lost what, you say?

      Also, Opera has 50 million desktop users, more than twice what they had less than two years ago.

      You fail.

  47. Richard Cartledge
    Jobs Halo


    How can Apple ship with Safari pre-installed?

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Apple is not a monopolist. Microsoft is. Huge difference.

      1. PirateSlayer
        Jobs Horns


        o rly?

  48. James Woods

    I don't understand the browser wars

    When things like this occur, being an avid Opera user myself I want to stop using it and fire up IE. Can't these companies just compete with one another for god sakes.

    When you buy a car do you have a choice as to what brand of tires the car comes with? Im sure you could raise a fuss about it but in general, if it's a new car often times the tire sizes being used are only made by 1 or a few suppliers making your option of choice very slim.

    My Verizon smartphone comes loaded with IE, I tried to get Opera to work on it but so far haven't been successful. Anymore im going to start having to side with Microsoft.

    Firefox from the standpoint of someone with limited computing resources runs like complete shit and with every new release (seems like one a week now) it's just getting slower and slower and slower and slower. Perhaps you don't notice it on faster computers but with a 500HZ P3 512mb ram you notice it. The last I checked I still meet the requirements for Firefox but it runs like ass and continues to run even worse.

    Opera as a browser needs alot of improvement to ever be considered worthy of the masses.

    For one, why can't the save password thing ever save the friggin passwords. How many times have I told my Opera to save a password and when I revisit the site it's gone. That's one of the main reasons I use firefox, it listens.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Compete? That's exactly what Microsoft prevented with its illegal activities.

      Your car analogy is useless because no car manufacturer is a monopolist, whereas Microsoft is.

      Opera works fine for the masses.

      1. The Commenter formally known as Matt

        2 good points then...

        Opera works fine for the masses.

        Firefox works fine for the masses.

        Chrome works fine for the masses.

        IE works fine for the masses.

        There, fixed it for you.

  49. fiijeff

    Can be much more common that you think

    I would like to point out, that this scenario can be much more common that Microsoft, EU, or Opera may think. The company I currently work for has been using the same software for years, and when I say years I mean 16 years. A few years ago with the launch of IE7 I a problem was introduced with our software correctly networking with other computers when either client of server was running IE7. Because of this, and a lack of a proper work around until this year, we are still running IE6 on all of the company computers. Now I will be upgrading them all in the coming months, but in this case, if I were in the EU then I would be faced with the very situation described in the article. So please take note of this. Do not assume because Microsoft claims it would be rare, that it is the truth.

  50. Herby

    What is REALLY needed

    Is a "I want a refund please UNinstall Windows (XP/Vista/7)".

    If Microsoft offered a refund of REAL money, not some funny stuff, on store built PC's that would be a real boon. Then I wouldn't need to waste the $$$/time on the whole problem. Yes, I'd need to install Linux, but that is a bit easier than clicking on all that junk that appears when you first buy a PC.

  51. Anonymous Coward

    Hello SCO

    Opera == SCO

    Go away, because you are a *moron* to run any software than spews from Micro$haft or opera for that matter

    1. Anonymous Coward


      You work for Microsoft, don't you?

      SCO was paid by Microsoft to kill Linux. Opera, however, didn't sue anyone.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Average users?

    Could the average user, given a fresh windows install, acquire and install any browser other than IE without using IE?

    Also any users that are going to make an informed browser decision have surely already made it. How many that care at all will have avoided all info about alternatives and will see this screen and go "wow, there are other browsers?" I think for those who have not at least tried firefox a more likely question will be "whats a browser?"

    Conclusion? This screen simply irritates those that know already and confuses those who don't.

  53. SynnerCal
    Gates Horns

    Poorly implemented - need v2

    I really don't like the way that Microsoft have implemented this. For example, what's wrong with the "patch" (a mandatory one it would appear!) checking if Opera/Firefox are already installed and just not doing anything if they are? My thinking behind this is that if you've already installed Opera/Firefox/etc then you surely have already made a choice, so the "ballot" screen is pretty irelevant.

    I went ahead and deinstalled the patch mainly because I don't want to have to bork my current install either by installing IE8 or installing the same version of FF I've already got and is working to my satisfaction.

    I can only presume that MS configured this patch to be as annoying as possible to deflect the maximum criticism to the EU.

  54. mhenriday
    Thumb Up

    Thanks, Opera -

    and Håkan Lie - for staying on this one ! Microsoft cannot be allowed to subvert their agreement with the European Commission by pulling yet another rabbit from their hat full of dirty tricks. The whole point of the agreement is to ensure that even users who are relatively unfamiliar with computers have a real choice of browsers, instead of being misled into believing that Internet Explorer is synonymous with the internet. Those who believe that the arrangement described in the article was not a deliberate attempt on Microsoft's part to get 'round the agreement are rather to be congratulated on their touching faith in the goodness of large corporations than on their insight into how they function in practice....


  55. jon 77

    sinking, sinking!!!

    have a look at this chart!!

    Firefox was sinking, now its going up!!! Thanks opera, for scaring customers to FF!!! :D

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up


      Considering that Opera's user base (active users) has consistently grown, and Opera downloads more than tripled after the ballot screen, Microsoft's ballot screen seems to be "scaring" users to Opera as well.

      Looks interesting, BTW:

  56. Steve 114


    " The Reg's San-Francisco, California, offices". - way to go!

  57. Doug Glass

    Bull Sheet !!

    RE: " .....Opera’s example, where a Windows XP user has rejected installation of IE 8 for the year it has been available but suddenly decides to install it is not realistic.”

    I did exactly this five on machines right in my humble abode. Seems I had been completely ignoring IE in favor of FF. Then one day on the MS Update site I decide to h3ll with it and allow the update to IE8 for no particular reason. And I did it on our three desktops and two netbooks.

    What the frakk makes Microsoft believe people do only their version of what's reasonable? Morons, just morons.

  58. Anonymous Coward


    As soon as a bad IE story crops up, all the IE Shills and their dupe accounts crop up, with their obvious American speak...

    Someone needs to tell Microsoft's army of viral marketers that "cool aid" is only available in the US, and not a global term. It's the golden giveaway that they are shilling...

    I'm a recent Opera convert, and I love it, infact every day goes by, I find new stuff to love...

    1. Oninoshiko


      If your going there, at least get it right. it's "Kool-Aid(tm)" and even that's not right because I have it under good authority that cultists prefer to mix their cynide with grape "Flavor Aid(tm)"

      skull, obvious reasons.

    2. PirateSlayer

      This the smuggest post I have read so far (and it is up against some serious competition!)

      AND it's A/C!

    3. The Commenter formally known as Matt

      Paranoia? But they are out to get me!

      I love this post: Kool-Aid drinker accuses anyone who disagrees with them of being a Kool-Aid drinker.

      I think XYZ no one in their right mind would disagree with me, therefore logically you must be paid MS shills!

      Here's the thing boys and girls, these comments are part of what is known as conversation, or debate. Debate naturally gives rise to opposing viewpoints, as hard as it might seem there are rational people out there who disagree with what you believe. They are not paid shills, they are not (always) idiots and accusing them of being shills, fanbois etc does not invalidate their opinions, nor is it a ligitimate way of stating your opinion.

      Note: The above does not apply if someone disagrees with my point of view.

  59. Nexox Enigma

    Damn people love to hate Opera...

    I guess browsers are the new software religious war, eh? I see Emacs and Vi users cooperating these days, but apparently backing the wrong browser is enough to get you exiled. I never did understand these things (Except I know that all Emacs users are kiddie-fiddlers, obviously) as they're all just pieces of software, and it seems idiotic to judge someone for their choice of an application. Except Emacs.

    In any case, Opera's "complaining" (other's may call it "pointing out that someone is breaking the law") isn't really much wasted time, as hammering out a blog entry and responding to a few emails doesn't exactly amount to a full-time job. In fact for the last couple weeks Opera has been pumping out betas and RCs at about a 48 hour interval, each time with a pretty good amount of bugs fixed.

    And last weekend I reformatted a friends' computer (he owned the machine by browsing sketchy porn in IE6) with whatever version of XP came in the recovery partition on his Dell. After hours of updates I eventually got to IE8, which requires more clicks to install than any other update (irritating since I was trying to multi-task, and it's nice to be able to ignore Windows Update for long periods of time.) I then had to click through way too many windows, all of which left me with the distinct impression that if I didn't choose the MS option for each, I was doing something wrong.

    I had also previously removed the IE icon from the desktop, to discourage use, and the IE8 update made it come back, even though it should have been fairly obvious (I unchecked a box in a config to remove it) that I didn't want it there to begin with.

    In the end I did manage to get FF back to the default browser, but the whole experience took quite a toll on my already short patience for MS crap.

  60. Anonymous Coward

    why does IE need to be "configured"?

    I use IE once or twice a year when I want to quickly visit a site on a little-used Windows box that doesn't really require a decent browser. But I can't use it until I click ignore on that stupid ass setup screen every damn time it opens. Or if I go along with it I have to answer a veritable cluster fuck of ridiculous questions that seemingly never ends. Then I log in through another user account and... fuck here we go again.

    Same bullshit happens if you try to use Media Player. SO many dumb questions. Bitch please I just want to open an mp3 WHY CANT YOU JUST OPEN IT. I don't want to choose Media Player's preferred behaviour for signalling a Satellite phase shift error when the Quantum Unicorn calls on the third full moon of the year if Jupiter is in the second house I JUST WANT TO PLAY MEDIA FILES.

    Can't Microsoft EVER just get software right.

  61. Anonymous Coward


    "I" comes before "O" in the alphabet and those nasty bastards are sorting the list alphabetically. The only fair thing to do is put OUR browser at the top of the list and preselect it. It's not our fault our browsers name starts with an "O"!

    AHA! -it's all racist, that's it! The alphabet was created by white people - bastards. Where the hell as Al Sharpton or Rev. Jess Jackson when you need them!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Whine, whine

      What on earth are you talking about? With logic like that, you must be paid by Microsoft.

      It was Mozilla that wanted the browser screen to be randomized. But whatever!

  62. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Don't hate on Opera for this

    You guys that are hating on Opera... you know, Microsoft is well known for tricks like this. It is quite obvious that they should be able to make the browser ballot pop up without having to "set up" IE, if the user doesn't even intend to USE IE. Microsoft can claim "Golly gee, we didn't notice" but COME ON -- this is what happens on a fresh install, I'm sure somebody there tested this. They knew EXACTLY what would happen, and I think they did this intentionally. Based on historical precedence, Microsoft is WELL KNOWN to do things like this (try to see how many "mistakes" they can make in following court orders without being sued). Sorry guys, but Opera is in the right on this one. Microsoft is a convicted monopolist, and if they were court ordered to do a browser screen, they have to make it work right. Honestly, it's not a big deal either, since it's downloaded as an update anyway, it's not like distributing this fix is a big burden on Microsoft.

    1. Mark Greenwood

      Conspiracy Theorists Everywhere

      "Microsoft can claim "Golly gee, we didn't notice" but COME ON -- this is what happens on a fresh install, I'm sure somebody there tested this."

      Yes I'm sure somebody did. But I'm also sure it was some bored tech guy in a lab, listening to Korn on his Zune, who knew exactly what he was doing and didn't think the configuration screens for IE were confusing, because he sees them 10 times a week and can click through them in 20 seconds. He wouldn't have seen it as any kind of a problem.

      The people making the statements about "Golly gee, we didn't notice" are not the same people who actually use the stuff. It's therefore very hard to say that the obfuscation is intentional. Stupid and typically Microsoft yes, but you give them too much credit if you think they are actually clever enough to be so devious.

  63. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up


    "I don't want to choose Media Player's preferred behaviour for signalling a Satellite phase shift error when the Quantum Unicorn calls on the third full moon of the year if Jupiter is in the second house I JUST WANT TO PLAY MEDIA FILES."

    First rate piece of work.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What to choose?

    Oh geez, here we go again. Another EU "solution" that complicates everything and fixes nothing. The people who *want* to use an alternative browser are the ones who already know how to change it. The rest are those who either don't care or are like my mother-in-law, who would panic at all the choices and pick up the phone. To me.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Actually, the massive increase in downloads for the other browsers shows that people do appreciate learning that they have a choice.

  65. PirateSlayer


    I thought this was a virus/malware.

    I clicked on top right X until it went away.

    I noticed that all of my shortcuts to IE had been deleted.

    I cursed.

    I reinstalled IE...

    What a waste of fucking time.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Thats because you are a moron - we cant help you with that sorry...

      Just Saying.

  66. Solomon Grundy

    Why Won't They Die

    Why in God's name won't Opera either die or just concentrate a better product? Almost the only time you hear about them is when they are whining about something.

    They always focus on the negative - never telling you what they can do better, only what some else "sucks" at.

    If they put as much effort into their products as they do into chasing Microsoft they'd be a lot better off.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Good product?

      Considering that Opera is currently the fastest browser on the market, and with the best security track record, it seems that they have indeed been making the best product.

      Opera is in fact in the news a lot. It's your own fault if you only notice it when Opera points out errors.

      Opera always talks about what they can do better. It's just you who doesn't care when they do. And when they do something else, you whine about it.


  67. David Austin

    The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

    I don't know what depresses me more, the situation or the comments.

    This whole decision is bad for just about everyone:

    1) I've had people who want/need to keep IE7, but once installed, the browser choice screen keeps pestering them

    2) Most home users I've done work for in the last month or so just close the box with a severe case of tl;dr - they just get annoyed that it keeps popping out.

    3) There's no official way to uninstall it, if it ends up on a corporate PC if it uses Windows Update as well as WSUS. (Just deleting the browserchoice.exe from system32 seems to do it - you even get offered it on the next Windows Update, which you can then decline)

    4) EU Comes across as medelling/ineffective (Delete as appropriate) Microsoft come across as sneaky bastards, Opera come across as whinny nanny boys, and Mozilla come across as dangerous subversives.

  68. Bill Gould

    When will Opera shut the fsck up?

    Seriously. Nobody cares. Go die in a fire Opera. On a boat. Yes, a fire on a boat. Go die.

  69. Rock Lobster

    Dear Opera-Bashers

    I don't like Opera's whining either, but don't forget one thing: In the end it might be helpful to your favorite's browser as well.

  70. serviceWithASmile
    Thumb Down

    normally i would side with opera

    but this just looks like nitpicking to be honest.

    microsoft deserve a good kick in the balls for the way they conduct their business imho, but arranging things so it is possible to cover one dialogue with another and then pointing out that this isn't particularly fair on the other browsers seems disengenuous.

    I'm sure windows could be made to cover any amount of dialogues with other less relevant dialogues; this is a non story.

  71. Gordon is not a Moron

    An obvious lie?

    "Lie noted Opera has better things to do with its time than chase Microsoft", when clearly they don't have better things to do, otherwise they'd be bloody well doing them.

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    Errr we missing something here

    So with all this hate to MS and IE, is someone going to mount a case over to apple. Since safari is bundled with OSX

    Omg Apple is forcing me to use safari !!!!!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Apple is not a monopolist

      Apple is not a convicted monopolist, while Microsoft is. Any question?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You're right!

      Quick, go tell both of Apple's customers that they have a choice.

      (if you can find them... *glug glug glug*)

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Are they called Opera because

    ...they make a big song and dance about everything? Sheesh, why don't they give it a rest and figure out for real why no-one's using their browser instead of blaming everyone else.

  74. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    With Opera you know *only* 1 thing

    The show's not over till the fat lady sings.

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