Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 7th Oct 2009 17:36 UTC
Internet & Networking After long negotiations and back and forths between the EU, Microsoft, and other browser makers, Microsoft's browser ballot proposal has been amended and offered up for debate yet again by the EU; this time around, it will actually be tested out by consumers. A number of changes have been made since the first proposal, so let's take a look.
Order by: Score:
Comment by JayDee
by JayDee on Wed 7th Oct 2009 17:54 UTC
JayDee
Member since:
2009-06-02

Maybe Opera will suggest that the browsers be listed in reverse alphabetical order...

Reply Score: 8

Why a web page?
by dragossh on Wed 7th Oct 2009 17:56 UTC
dragossh
Member since:
2008-12-16

I'm wondering why they chose to implement it as a web page loaded by Internet Explorer. Well, not really, because we know the real reason: most people will close the browser ballot screen thinking "why do I need another browser when I have IE installed?"

They should have made it a Win32 app and not install IE by default.

*ducks*

Reply Score: 2

RE: Why a web page?
by Kroc on Wed 7th Oct 2009 17:59 UTC in reply to "Why a web page?"
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

Or, just like the wonderfully implemented ‘Choose your settings’ page in IE7, it’ll be automatically skipped by the autoload URL and straight on to that machine-crippling mess that is MSN.com

Reply Score: 1

RE: Why a web page?
by lloydsparkes on Wed 7th Oct 2009 18:08 UTC in reply to "Why a web page?"
lloydsparkes Member since:
2009-10-07

This will be pushed to users who have IE set a default over Windows Update, not for fresh installs.

How it will occur in a fresh install isnt a problem untill the First Service Pack of Windows 7. But i suspect it will be when the user first runs IE they will be shown it.

Reply Score: 1

Comment by Kroc
by Kroc on Wed 7th Oct 2009 18:03 UTC
Kroc
Member since:
2005-11-10

There are several companies in the local paper named ‘AAAAAAA’ (no, seriously), what if they decide to make a browser?

Putting this in IE is a mess, really. IE is _really_ not the best app for launching other apps and changing Windows settings. Not least the IE8 ‘Twenty Questions’, which includes Set As Default Browser.

Yet more pain for IE users, yet more startup gumpf that makes booting a PC for the first time a 4 hour ordeal.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by Kroc
by lloydsparkes on Wed 7th Oct 2009 18:09 UTC in reply to "Comment by Kroc"
lloydsparkes Member since:
2009-10-07

Thats the punishment for having a Monoploy ;)

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Comment by Kroc
by JLF65 on Wed 7th Oct 2009 18:51 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Kroc"
JLF65 Member since:
2005-07-06

Thats the punishment for having a Monoploy ;)


No, it's the punishment for ABUSING your monopoly position. Most countries (USA included) have no problems with companies acquiring a monopoly, just in using that monopoly illegally.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by Kroc
by google_ninja on Wed 7th Oct 2009 19:12 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Kroc"
google_ninja Member since:
2006-02-05

A punishment is a fine. This is an attempt to correct an unhealthy market through regulation.

Funny thing is, the browser market is incredibly healthy at the moment. There is a high amount of competition and innovation going on. This would make sense if the EU did it about 11 years ago, would be understandable if they did it 5 years ago. Now it is either sad or scary, depending on where you live.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Comment by Kroc
by sbergman27 on Wed 7th Oct 2009 19:30 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by Kroc"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

Funny thing is, the browser market is incredibly healthy at the moment. There is a high amount of competition and innovation going on

People say this. And the current landscape *is* starting to become encouraging. But we are not out of the woods yet. And overconfidence is, perhaps, our greatest enemy now. IE is still strongly dominant and still holds a major unfair advantage over other browsers. There is still a very real barrier to entry. Other browsers have to be substantially better than current IE to maintain their market share. IE still gets it by default and then *loses* market share if, and only if, it is substantially inferior, and if and only if the user is savvy enough to recognize it and find something else.

We are *beginning* to see some real competition. True. But the only reason that anyone might mistake it for a healthy market is that we are so very used to so much worse.

I try not to be too alarmist. But I sincerely believe that it is appropriate to sound the alarm in this case.

Reply Score: 7

RE[5]: Comment by Kroc
by google_ninja on Wed 7th Oct 2009 22:13 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by Kroc"
google_ninja Member since:
2006-02-05

I completely disagree. IE is at 65% and dropping really fast. Depending on where you live, it may not even be the most used browser. Not only that, but studies are showing that IE is mostly used by people who have no control over the browser that they use (like people at work).

MS has not marketed their browser since IE4. Now they feel the need to. Firefox is breaking records for software downloads virtually every major revision. The major browsers are basically leapfrogging each other every revision when it comes to both features and performance. And solid new entries into the market are able to get a solid foothold in remarkably short periods of time (google chrome is 3% after a single year). Not only that, but the last time there was competition in this market, the competition was about proprietary features and lock-in, this time the competition is about implementation of open standards.

I would say the market is doing better now then it ever has before, and by a significant margin. We aren't just beginning to see competition, that was about 6 years ago. We have multiple very mature offerings by several major companies all engaged in innovation and competition. Those are the signs of a healthy market, and healthy markets function best when left the heck alone.

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: Comment by Kroc
by sbergman27 on Wed 7th Oct 2009 22:36 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by Kroc"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

I completely disagree. IE is at 65% and dropping really fast. Depending on where you live, it may not even be the most used browser. Not only that, but studies are showing that IE is mostly used by people who have no control over the browser that they use (like people at work).

I so disagree. 65% and dropping fast? That's a little optimistic.

People who have no control over what they use? Like at work? How about sysadmins at work who have no choice about what to provide, because third parties require it for critical business apps that we have to use?

Home users have it easy. I have it easy for my personal use. I can flip the bird to any site whose admins and designers piss me off with their arrogance.

But when I am wearing my sysadmin cap, and my users are depending upon me to get the job done, I don't have that flexibility. And if I've got to provide IE and then go discretely vomit in the corner for having been forced to do that for no good administrative reason...

I do not have that problem with any other browser. Not one. IE is unique in that respect. And I do not see respite close at hand.

I have the greatest respect for you. But from my perspective, I can't help but feel that you are being a bit complacent in this matter. Although I do agree that things have gotten remarkably better than they used to be.

Edit: But the situation still reeks!

Edited 2009-10-07 22:46 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[7]: Comment by Kroc
by google_ninja on Wed 7th Oct 2009 23:21 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Comment by Kroc"
google_ninja Member since:
2006-02-05

http://marketshare.hitslink.com/report.aspx?qprid=0

thats where i get my numbers from. They aren't perfect, but it is the best we can realistically hope to get.

there are a great many companies where you are only allowed to install software that has been vetted by IT. Firefox uses a non standard installer on windows, which makes it a royal pain to deploy on a windows network. That means that in big windows installations, unless you have a good IT team who are willing to go the extra mile, chances are you are stuck with IE.

The other issue is what you brought up, virtually any intranet webapp that was written more then about 8 or 9 years ago is probably IE only (and probably only IE6). This will make up the minds of even good IT teams to only vet IE, since that is the only browser that will work with their internal tools. Anything written the last 9 years or so has less and less excuse to be IE only, and nowadays if someone writes something that is IE only it is a pretty good sign of incompetence.

This is where IE still has a stranglehold, and if you are going to correct things through legislation, this is where you need to do it.

Reply Score: 2

Neelie Kros, head of EC, has said
by MollyC on Wed 7th Oct 2009 20:18 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Kroc"
MollyC Member since:
2006-07-04

at least implicitly, that having a dominant marketshare (which she defined as over 50%) itself was "illegal". (She was talking about Microsoft server share at the time, I believe.) That that was the abuse in an of itself. She went on to say, "Our goal is to drive Microsoft's share down to below 50%" (as opposed to our goal is to end abuse, etc). So that, no matter what Microsoft did to address her concerns, it was inadequate if it didn't drive down Microsoft's marketshare to an acceptable level.

And there've been rulings in the EU where, if a company obtains over 50% share of a particular "market" (as defined by the EC), then that company is required to assist its competitors.

Lastly, there is a major difference between US antitrust law and EU antitrust law, in that the former's goal is to protect consumers, while the latter's is to protect competitors. So in the US, a company can do what it wants unless it can be shown that consumers are hurt. In the EU, it's whether competitors are hurt that is paramount, and "punishment"/"remedies" are imposed even if consumers haven't been hurt, indeed, even if those punishments/remedies hurt consumers.

This ballot is imposing an inconvenience on consumers (throwing a ballot in their face) in order to help competitors, even though the consumers haven't been hurt because they already have plenty of browsers to choose from, and do.

Edited 2009-10-07 20:23 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by Kroc
by sbergman27 on Thu 8th Oct 2009 15:13 UTC in reply to "Comment by Kroc"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

There are several companies in the local paper named ‘AAAAAAA’ (no, seriously), what if they decide to make a browser?

Did you miss the story where "Opera Software" is changing its name to "AAAAAAAOpera Software"?

Reply Score: 3

Ie in the center.
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Wed 7th Oct 2009 18:25 UTC
Bill Shooter of Bul
Member since:
2006-07-14

Anyone else notice how IE is now in the center? I think that's actually a better spot then the first in the horizontal list. I don't think there is a good arrangement that would be perfectly fair. Maybe the order is randomly generated? Or is that just going to an absurd length?

I actually don't really care that much about the browser ballot, but what I do care about is how to fairly present a number of options for a user to make an unbiased choice.

Aside: Wow, I just saw an add for pystar on Osnews! That's pretty cool.

Edited 2009-10-07 18:27 UTC

Reply Score: 3

MollyC Member since:
2006-07-04

if the goal is to prevent a browser from becoming dominant. So at the beginning of each month, check the marketshare, and show the browsers in reverse of that order. That way, it's self-correcting.

So right now, IE should be listed last. Later, FF will be listed last (it's inevitable that it will become the #1 marketshare browser, and that was the case even before this ballot thingy).

(Opera would always be listed first, or nearly so. They'll always be at or near the bottom in marketshare and they'll have one less excuse when this ballot doesn't change their fortunes one iota.)

Edited 2009-10-07 20:06 UTC

Reply Score: 4

sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

if the goal is to prevent a browser from becoming dominant. So at the beginning of each month, check the marketshare, and show the browsers in reverse of that order. That way, it's self-correcting.

That's reasonable. Of course, you still have the thorny problem of a cut-off point. Should Dillo, Elinks, or Opera appear at the top? Or should they be excluded altogether? My own inclination would be to include Dillo, but to exclude Elinks and Opera. Like I say, thorny issue. But I do think that it is an issue which should be tackled, and not avoided.

So right now, IE should be listed last.

Right next to the elephant in the room.

Later, FF will be listed last (it's inevitable that it will become the #1 marketshare browser, and that was the case even before this ballot thingy).

I'm not sure if you are joking or not. I don't see it as being inevitable at all. I don't consider it necessarily even probable. And I'm not certain it would even be desirable. I'm already starting to worry about the way Mozilla Corp is using its (relatively) new-found power. (Trademark bullying.)

It would, however, be better than the current situation, and IE's dominance, IMO.

Opera would always be listed first, or nearly so.

Well, there's always Amaya, Lynx, Links, Links2, Curl, and Wget. But those are all written by card-carrying communists, and should be excluded on those grounds.

I don't think the ballot makes much difference. Because only relatively savvy individuals (the minority) will ever see it. I think that the ballot would be great if conducted properly and if everybody saw it. But they won't. Most people get their browser from God (Dell, HP, etc.) and are just glad when Facebook works, because they're "computer literate" and proud of it. Except, of course, for the ones who aren't, and laugh it off apologetically.

Edited 2009-10-07 20:41 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Ok, but that would require an internet connection to pull the latest data and a reliable source to trust for the data. Again, I don't really care that much about browsers, I'm more interested in the general static usability problem:

Given N choices of equal value to users, what is the best way to arrange them on a screen to get an even distribution of options selected. If T( a whole multiple of N) people select, then each choice is chosen T/N times.

Reply Score: 2

Hilarious
by sonic2000gr on Wed 7th Oct 2009 18:52 UTC
sonic2000gr
Member since:
2007-05-20

Don't know about you people, but I actually find all this ballot story hilarious...
There's Microsoft trying to subtly make you select IE, there's the EU suspiciously looking at them, and there are the other browser makers constantly 'examining' the situation.
If this was an Agatha Christie book, I'd say the butler did it!

Reply Score: 3

RE: Hilarious
by tomi on Thu 8th Oct 2009 10:42 UTC in reply to "Hilarious"
tomi Member since:
2009-10-08

Hehe,
just what I was thinking.. well maybe not the Agatha Christie part ;)

I think we now need the EU to regulate in what words the different browsers are allowed advertise themselves in the list..
For example, now IE and FF are both claiming to "make the web better". I'm confused.

Edited 2009-10-08 10:49 UTC

Reply Score: 1

v Warning: Troll Post
by google_ninja on Wed 7th Oct 2009 19:07 UTC
RE: Warning: Troll Post
by sbergman27 on Wed 7th Oct 2009 19:43 UTC in reply to "Warning: Troll Post"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

And why is opera the one calling the shots? At 2% market share it is hard to reason out why they are even on the ballot in the first place.

The squeaking wheel gets the grease? I don't particularly care for Opera Software. And they are certainly looking out for their own interests, and no one else's. At this point, I look at the current market and declare their antics silly but in the right direction. And at this point, Mostly Harmless to the greater market. We should keep an eye on them. They could be dangerous in the future. But at this point they are merely very pushy wannabe's.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by simon17
by simon17 on Wed 7th Oct 2009 19:08 UTC
simon17
Member since:
2009-08-21

Well Opera is "studying the revised proposal" i.e. looking for something to bitch about.

I think there should be a wheel that you spin that randomly picks a browser to be installed.

Reply Score: 1

Comment by satan666
by satan666 on Wed 7th Oct 2009 19:58 UTC
satan666
Member since:
2008-04-18

Internet Explorer enjoys a market share that it does not deserve. If the ballot thing rectifies this situation, then it is certainly a good thing. To quote a certain Steve B., Internet Explorer's market share should be more like a "rounding error".

Reply Score: 4

RE: Comment by satan666
by PlatformAgnostic on Wed 7th Oct 2009 22:36 UTC in reply to "Comment by satan666"
PlatformAgnostic Member since:
2006-01-02

Why don't you think IE has a marketshare it doesn't deserve? After IE7 came out, I saw no reason to continue using Firefox since IE works just fine. IE8 is even better, UI-wise, with its tab grouping and nicely organized search suggestions. What am I missing out on?

Reply Score: 1

MollyC
Member since:
2006-07-04

browsers, since they're not on the ballot. Moreover, it creates a barrier to entry for future browsers, and that barrier to entry is government-mandated.

Reply Score: 5

Browser description biased to IE
by ali_bongos_dad on Wed 7th Oct 2009 20:59 UTC
ali_bongos_dad
Member since:
2009-10-07

I notice that each browser has a brief description but the one for IE8 says that it is better Faster, Easier, Safer. Compared to what? The ballot implies that IE8 is preferable to the other browsers.

Reply Score: 2

MollyC Member since:
2006-07-04

They're all going to claim to be best. ;)

Reply Score: 3

Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

Better than a poke in the eye, Faster than molasses, Easier than calculus and Safer than a wet paper bag.

Reply Score: 2