Linked by Kroc Camen on Fri 19th Feb 2010 16:56 UTC
Microsoft Be prepared for choice to be thrust before you, the Microsoft browser ballot arrives in Europe around the 1st of March. It will also be available in Windows Update as an optional install for interested users to test next week. Microsoft have included screenshots of the process. Via BBC News
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Comment by Thom_Holwerda
by Thom_Holwerda on Fri 19th Feb 2010 17:01 UTC
Thom_Holwerda
Member since:
2005-06-29

Everybody hates nagware and popups, and we scream bloody murder when bad guys do it, but when it's supposedly for a good cause to bother users with an annoying choice they have been free to make for YEARS, it's suddenly okay.

This is useless, pointless, annoying crap. I expect to see a sudden rise in calls to the family geek about "this crazy popup that just came out of nowhere".

Edited 2010-02-19 17:01 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by Thom_Holwerda
by kragil on Fri 19th Feb 2010 17:39 UTC in reply to "Comment by Thom_Holwerda"
kragil Member since:
2006-01-04

This is an important issue and deserves the attention IMO.

BTW: What will browsers 6 to 12 be??

Reply Score: 5

RE: Comment by Thom_Holwerda
by umccullough on Fri 19th Feb 2010 18:33 UTC in reply to "Comment by Thom_Holwerda"
umccullough Member since:
2006-01-26

I expect to see a sudden rise in calls to the family geek about "this crazy popup that just came out of nowhere".


Funny, as one of the "family geeks" that generally receive said calls, I often use the opportunity to recommend installing another browser such as Chrome or Firefox (or both) to the caller ;)

Often times, I'll check back with people after suggesting Chrome or FF, and they'll tell me they love it.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by Thom_Holwerda
by WorknMan on Fri 19th Feb 2010 19:51 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Thom_Holwerda"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

I'm one of the 'family geeks' too. I usually just install Firefox for them, along with adblock plus. In my experience, they usually don't care what browser they're using, so long as all the sites they visit work properly.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by Thom_Holwerda
by lemur2 on Sat 20th Feb 2010 07:42 UTC in reply to "Comment by Thom_Holwerda"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Everybody hates nagware and popups, and we scream bloody murder when bad guys do it


I don't. I am all for user choice, but thankfully, I never see any of this "nagware" on my system. I have almost the same browser choices (bar one or two of the less desirable ones anyway, and I have a few extra choices that aren't shown in this screen), but there is never a pop-up for installation ... they are only installed on my specific request, strictly at my sole discretion.

I can even choose to have no browser installed. I can easily install one later (even without one already installed).

It is MY system, after all.

This is they way it SHOULD be (but clearly isn't) on all systems.

Edited 2010-02-20 07:43 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Comment by Thom_Holwerda
by cb_osn on Sat 20th Feb 2010 08:42 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Thom_Holwerda"
cb_osn Member since:
2006-02-26

I don't. I am all for user choice, but thankfully, I never see any of this "nagware" on my system.

You just can't let one slide, can you?

We know that Linux is the light in your life, that KDE is the sun in your sky, and that the rest of us are unfathomably ignorant for not making the same exact choices that you do.

Really. We get it. You don't have to remind us in every single thread that is even remotely related to Windows.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Comment by Thom_Holwerda
by Thom_Holwerda on Sat 20th Feb 2010 08:57 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Thom_Holwerda"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

I can even choose to have no browser installed. I can easily install one later (even without one already installed).


Funny. My Windows 7 can do the same.

Your point?

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Comment by Thom_Holwerda
by lemur2 on Sat 20th Feb 2010 09:18 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Thom_Holwerda"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

"I can even choose to have no browser installed. I can easily install one later (even without one already installed).


Funny. My Windows 7 can do the same.

Your point?
"

My point is that anything that gives users a choice on their own machine is simply not "useless, pointless, annoying crap".

Even if it IS nagware.

Reply Score: 1

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

My point is that anything that gives users a choice on their own machine is simply not "useless, pointless, annoying crap".

Even if it IS nagware.


Uhm... The browser popup does nothing to add any form of choice to Windows. The choice to switch browsers has always been there, nagware or no.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Comment by Thom_Holwerda
by lemur2 on Sat 20th Feb 2010 12:15 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by Thom_Holwerda"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

"My point is that anything that gives users a choice on their own machine is simply not "useless, pointless, annoying crap".

Even if it IS nagware.


Uhm... The browser popup does nothing to add any form of choice to Windows. The choice to switch browsers has always been there, nagware or no.
"

As I understand it, this option lets users pick a browser other than IE without ever having IE.

That is new at least ... although I agree this ballot thing is a bit silly.

It would have been a far better outcome, IMO, if the EU had simply insisted that any browser offered had to meet standards. That would have fixed the problem as far as website authors goes, and Microsoft could have still offered IE as the only installed browser.

Reply Score: 2

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

That is new at least


No. Windows 7 has always been capable of NOT having IE. I know, as I have it that way on my Windows 7 machines.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Comment by Thom_Holwerda
by arpan on Sat 20th Feb 2010 12:17 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by Thom_Holwerda"
arpan Member since:
2006-07-30

But most users do not know that they have a choice. This gives them that information, and it's only a single click.

If it increases the percentage of alternate browsers by a significant portion, it's worth it. More alternate browsers means that more designers will be willing to utilize HTML5 & CSS3, and users will begin to notice that other browsers appear to work better. Not immediately, it will take time, but any progress is good.

Reply Score: 1

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

But most users do not know that they have a choice.


Do you know you have a choice in every aspect of your life and product usage? When the plumber comes to fix your drains, do you know about the different pipe brands? Tool brands?

This dialog is forced choice that will only confuse users. A much better, saner, and more long-lasting approach would've been to force Microsoft to conform to web standards within 12 months. This isn't about promoting your pet browser - this should be about making the web a better place.

Reply Score: 1

RE[7]: Comment by Thom_Holwerda
by arpan on Sun 21st Feb 2010 21:21 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Comment by Thom_Holwerda"
arpan Member since:
2006-07-30

A much better, saner, and more long-lasting approach would've been to force Microsoft to conform to web standards within 12 months. This isn't about promoting your pet browser - this should be about making the web a better place.


Well, I guess we can agree on that. But IE8 is already technically standards compliant (supports html & CSS 2). It doesn't support the draft standards, but since they are draft standards, how could EU legally insist that MS support them? And how would you test such support, since the standards are not yet finalized?

Reply Score: 1

dylansmrjones Member since:
2005-10-02

You have a Windows 7 without IE installed? How did you manage to avoid IE on your system?

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Comment by Thom_Holwerda
by Kroc on Sat 20th Feb 2010 14:38 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by Thom_Holwerda"
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

Search for "Turn Windows features on or off" on the start menu. You can disable IE in Win7 and it won’t appear anywhere.

Reply Score: 1

dylansmrjones Member since:
2005-10-02

I know that. That's not what I was asking about, nor what Thom was saying. Hiding is not uninstalling nor removing. Removing iexplore.exe is a step in the right direction, but doesn't qualify as uninstalling or removing.

The ballot is a piss-poor replacement for actually removing IE. The problem is not the existence of IE, but rather the fact it cannot be removed. MS shouldn't be forced to make a ballot screen for competing products. They should simply be forced to make IE completely removable, while installing it by default.

Thom claimed he could do the same with Win7 and IE as lemur could on linux. And that's why I reacted.

In other news today: Denmark hit by earth"quake" and going for three months permanent covered in snow (not seen since 1977).

Reply Score: 5

RE[6]: Comment by Thom_Holwerda
by Kroc on Sat 20th Feb 2010 16:35 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by Thom_Holwerda"
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

iexplore.exe _is_ Internet Explorer, mshtml.dll is Trident. That is no different than removing Safari and having WebKit left behind (a system framework). Trident is used in other apps, including some of the other browsers that the ballot is listing.

They should simply be forced to make IE completely removable, while installing it by default.


*Which is exactly how Windows 7 is*. Have you not used Win7? You can remove IE, iexplore.exe is gone! The fact Trident remains is no different than any other OS that has an embeddable HTML component—Linux included, that has XULRunner, KHTML and Qt-WebKit.

Reply Score: 3

dylansmrjones Member since:
2005-10-02

It took a while writing this reply. The reason behind this is that the tone in this thread is going in the wrong direction. I want this thread to be kept in a sober, technical tone and not become a flamewar.

No. iexplore.exe is _not_ Internet Explorer. It would've been true if IE was a monolithic application (e.g. statically linked with its resources), but it is not. It is a componentized (or modular/dynamically linked*) application and as such cannot be claimed to be one single file. Besides that Internet Explorer is not merely a GUI-shell around a rendering engine. It is also the name for the entire package (e.g. Application). iexplore.exe doesn't even contain the GUI for IE (I'll go into details with that later on).
Do you really think that deleting firefox.exe will remove all of Firefox? What about external resources, registry keys and what not? Firefox is not just a single part. It is (like most applications) made from many parts. To name a few: firefox.exe , application.ini , freebl3.dll , mozcrt19.dll , plc4.dll , xpinstall.js , browser.xpt , nsBadCertHandler.js et cetera. For Google Chrome we have files like chrome.exe , devtools.css , gears.dll , icudt42.dll , rlz.dll , back.png , checker.png , wow_helper.exe et cetera.
Heck, even Warlords (1) comes with several files: WARLORDS.EXE , WLC.LBM , SCENERY.LBM , RING.SJH , DRUMROLL.SJH et cetera.

Point is: An application (usually) does not only consist of code. It also contains resources, whether internally or externally. A componentized application consists of several files (e.g. they are dynamically linked and/or loaded at runtime) which all are a part of the application. And as such the application isn't fully removed until all parts are removed.

Internet Explore consists of files like: iexplore.exe , ieframe.dll , mshtml.dll , shdocvw.dll , browseui.dll , wininet.dll , urlmon.dll , hmmapi.dll , ieproxy.dll , IEShims.dll , jsprofiler.dll et cetera.

To use a car analogy (they are apparently popular?) iexplore.exe is the equivalent of an ignition lock in a car. Claiming that the car has been removed just because the ignition lock has been removed is hilarious. Claiming that Internet Explorer has been removed just because the executable binary has been removed is hilarious. iexplore.exe doesn't even contain GUI code.
IEFrame.dll is the equivalent of the chassis. This contains the window and UI of IE.
BrowseUI.dll is the equivalent of seats, speedometer and such stuff and contains menues, toolbars, chrome and other parts of the (G)UI.
mshtml.dll is the equivalent of a car engine and is a much a part of the car as the chassis or the ignition lock. mshtml.dll is the Trident engine as you correctly stated (and your only correct statement).
shdocvw.dll is somewhat akin to an odometer and a GPS. It takes care of navigation and browser history and such stuff. I suspect this one too is tighter integrated with Windows than I like.
wininet.dll and urlmon.dll are the equivalents of roads, roadsigns and fuel. They handle network protocls, MIME-types and such. They are below the rendering engine and really shouldn't be considered parts of the IE architecture IMHO. They are not browsing specific as such, but handles connectivity and as such ought to be a part of a separate package (let's call it Windows Live Connectivity, DirectConnect, DirectNet or even Direct.Net).

There are other files which needs to be modified in order to fully remove IE. These are (amongst others) Comctl32.dll, Shell32.dll, Shlwapi.dll and explorer.exe (apparently). Functionality in these files must either be removed (this will break an awful lot of applications and create a desktop experience similar to Win95/NT 4) or rewritten to not depend on a browser (for functionality not really supposed to depend on a browser) or being browser-agnostic for functionality that naturally depends on a browser.

In regard to Linux, you are wrong on so many accounts I have a hard time wrapping my mind around it.

First of all: Linux is just a kernel and doesn't embed any rendering engine, browser component or such stuff. It's a kernel and contains network drivers, file system drivers and such stuff. They can be parts of a monolithic kernel or they can be compiled as modules (but nevertheless parts of the kernel).

A "Linux"-system (known as a "distribution") consists of the Linux kernel, GNU userland tools (mostly a bunch of libraries and commandline tools), and usually other packages incl. graphical environment, browsers, text editors and what not. They are usually referred to a GNU/Linux, though not all GNU-systems are running on the Linux kernel.
GNU userland tools usually do not have a embedded browser component as such. Some distributions may come with a text-based browser as an optional component. But this is not always the case.
Most GNU/Linux-distributions come with a graphical environment (usually the X.org-server, Gnome or KDE (desktop environments)), applications for the graphical environment incl. mail clients and browsers. Unlike Internet Explorer these applications can be fully removed without loss of non-internet functionality (you obviosly cannot "surf on the net" without browser-functionality).

In regard to Windows Seven (aka NT 6.1): Yes, I have used it. No, I don't like it. I hate the new taskbar. I prefer my Windows Server 2008 system (not R2 - it's the one based on Vista SP1). I have even installed Windows Seven (on an empty system). I fail to see the relevance of this. Whether I have used one or another system doesn't change the nature of componentized applications. But to your information I started with CP/M 2.2 (specifically CP/M-80), later moved to DOS 3.3, 5.0, 6.0, 6.22, OS/2 2.1, Mac OS Classic (pre-System 7 as well as System 7), Windows 9x, NT 4.0, Win2K, Win2K3 and XP, GNU/Linux (Redhat 6, 7, 9, Fedora Core 2, 3 and later LFS and gentoo) and today it is GNU/Linux (CLFS and Ubuntu) and Windows Server 2008. I am studying Pedagogy as well as Computer Science (weird combination, yes) and all of this information is just as irrelevant as your question in regard to my usage of Window Seven.

I hope I didn't leave anything unanswered. My memory is failing in my old age. After all as a child I had to get up half an hour before I went to bed, cut down the mightiest tree in the forrest with a herring, chew the wood fibers till they got soft, stamp on the woodpulp 'till it was completely flat, light a fire using my hair as fuel, and dry the flattened woodpulp over the fire. Then I had to chew holes in the dried woodpulp to program my dad's computer which I powered by running in a hamster wheel till I died from the stress. Such was my childhood.

* an application _can_ be somewhat modular while being statically linked. External resources like audio and graphics can be loaded at runtime, compiled in statically or compiled dynamically into a library (in Windows these are postfixed .DLL)

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Comment by Thom_Holwerda
by BluenoseJake on Sat 20th Feb 2010 14:58 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Thom_Holwerda"
BluenoseJake Member since:
2005-08-11

Why Linux doesn't ask you what your choice in browsers is. They all come with a default browser, and then if you don't like it, you install another one. Just like in Windows.

My Debian installs come with Iceweasel. Ubuntu comes with Firefox. Neither of those asked me for my choice of browser.

This is a stupid waste of resources. Is this going to popup on already installed and configured installs? I think that'll just be confusing.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Comment by Thom_Holwerda
by Doc Pain on Sun 21st Feb 2010 19:42 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Thom_Holwerda"
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

I'm not often raising my voice in "Windows" related discussions (because I don't have the right to do so), so please forgive me my comment.

Why Linux doesn't ask you what your choice in browsers is. They all come with a default browser, and then if you don't like it, you install another one.


I think there are at least some few Linux distros that come with no browser, so there even isn't a need to ask questions about which browser to use. The question is implicitely answered by the user - by his act installing a particular browser, or installing more than one browser.

Linux distros that are aiming at the "average desktop user", of course, often already contain a browser, usually with the desktop environment they automatically install.

An example from the BSD world would be PC-BSD: It features a default browser - in opposite to FreeBSD (its underlying OS) which does not install any browser by default.

The key here is that a certain default has been decided by the creator of the different Linux distributions. They made a choice (prior to the user who can make a different choice afterwards), and the same does MICROS~1 when they include their own web browser in "Windows", with which they heavily integrate it.

Again, a similarity comes into mind when considering the renderer inside KDE, for example: You can use KDE's web browser, or use Firefox instead; still, the "inside technology" of the KDE browser is used for the KDE file browser and viewer, that's why it's nearly impossible to deinstall the browser parts of KDE without making KDE unusable. On the other hand, it's trivial to install and deinstall additional browsers, as well as maintaining their status of a "default web browser" within the given desktop environment.

My Debian installs come with Iceweasel. Ubuntu comes with Firefox. Neither of those asked me for my choice of browser.


As a Linux user, you probably know that you have the choice to install another browser, or maybe even to de-install (completely remove) the browser installed by default; "Windows" users, as it seems to me, need to be made aware of the fact that they do not have to use what comes preinstalled.

This is a stupid waste of resources.


I agree with that (allthough keep in mind my above comment). A logical implication would be similar questions the user should be asked, e. g. which editor he wants, which mail user agent, which word processor, which image viewer, which DVD recording software...

The easiest thing to avoid useless questions is, as I said before, to let the user choose by himself. But this implies other "problems", e. g. that the user has to build a system by himself (although he does this from already existing and ready-made parts), and that's what nearly no "average" user wants to do - he wants everything already to be present, right after installation. In case of Linux, it's up to the designers of the particular distribution what programs they include in the default install; in case of "Windows" it is up to MICROS~1 as its manufacturer, and why should they decide to put in a browser from one of their "enemies", or deliver an "incomplete" product (i. e. a "Windows" with no web browser)?

Is this going to popup on already installed and configured installs? I think that'll just be confusing.


If it does, "Windows" users will probably think that their system is infected by a virus, so it needs to be rebooted or reinstalled. :-)

Reply Score: 2

Comment by Stephen!
by Stephen! on Fri 19th Feb 2010 20:54 UTC
Stephen!
Member since:
2007-11-24

Isn't it somewhat late for a browser ballot, considering that Windows 7 has already been released in Europe

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by Stephen!
by Cody Evans on Sat 20th Feb 2010 20:55 UTC in reply to "Comment by Stephen!"
Cody Evans Member since:
2009-08-14

The ballot is going to be released as a Windows Update for existing Windows 7 installs.

Reply Score: 1

URL to the actual ballot page (supposedly)
by MollyC on Sat 20th Feb 2010 22:55 UTC
MollyC
Member since:
2006-07-04

http://www.browserchoice.eu/BrowserChoice/browserchoice_en.htm

For those interested, it appears that browsers 6-12 are
Flock, K-Melon, Avant, Sleipnir, FlashPeak, GreenBrowser, and Maxthon.

Reply Score: 3

Why on Window but not on OS X?
by adinas on Sun 21st Feb 2010 10:49 UTC
adinas
Member since:
2005-08-17

Don't Apple users deserve the same possibility of choice?

Reply Score: 1

RE: Why on Window but not on OS X?
by lemur2 on Sun 21st Feb 2010 11:09 UTC in reply to "Why on Window but not on OS X?"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Don't Apple users deserve the same possibility of choice?


Why would Apple users choose to be limited by using IE?

Isn't it possible on OSX to remove Safari and install Firefox or Chrome instead?

Reply Score: 2

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

"Don't Apple users deserve the same possibility of choice?


Why would Apple users choose to be limited by using IE?

Isn't it possible on OSX to remove Safari and install Firefox or Chrome instead?
"

Yes. Just like it's possible to uninstall IE in Windows 7.

Reply Score: 1

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

" Why would Apple users choose to be limited by using IE?

Isn't it possible on OSX to remove Safari and install Firefox or Chrome instead?


Yes. Just like it's possible to uninstall IE in Windows 7.
"

Wasn't it Microsoft's position for years that IE was an integral part of the Windows OS, and couldn't be removed?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Removal_of_Internet_Explorer

While a major upgrade of Internet Explorer can be uninstalled in a traditional way if the user has saved the original application files for uninstallation, the matter of uninstalling the version of the browser that has shipped with an operating system remains a controversial one.

The idea of removing a stock install of Internet Explorer from a Windows system was proposed during the United States v. Microsoft case, and Microsoft themselves acknowledged that many users did not want IE. One of Microsoft's arguments during the trial, however, was that removing Internet Explorer from Windows may result in system instability.


Just quoting Microsoft's own position, here.

All that one can remove is the wrapper, the executable called iexplore.exe. AFAIK to this very day one cannot remove the dangerous, Microsoft-only vulnerable bits mshtml (trident), activex and other similar security holes.

Edited 2010-02-21 12:33 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Bryan Member since:
2005-07-11

You know, what's great about this little rant is that the article you linked to explains that Safari is used the exact same way on OSX:

While the dominant market position of Windows and Internet Explorer may cause these arguments to appear insubstantial, this arrangement is not unique to Windows. Safari, the default browser on Mac OS X, is similarly integrated into the operating system. While it is possible to delete the application itself without problem, Safari is in fact merely a front-end for Apple's open source WebKit framework, which is heavily integrated into the operating system and cannot be removed.


(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Removal_of_Internet_Explorer#Conflicts)

Your powers of selective reason astound me.

Reply Score: 2

I've already got the update....
by rklrkl on Tue 23rd Feb 2010 20:59 UTC
rklrkl
Member since:
2005-07-06

Here in the UK, my Windows 7 install just picked up the browser choice update - it's KB976002 described very vaguely here:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/976002

Some interesting points about it:

1. It's grouped in the "Important" update category and - get this - was *unticked* to be installed in my Windows Update list! So not only isn't it "critical", it wouldn't be installed unless you deliberately chose it to be anyway! Sounds like Microsoft have weaseled the defaults to ensure as few users as possible install it...no shock there.

2. Clicking on the update title reveals a paragraph of text explaining more, including this somewhat startling sentence:

"After you have installed this software it cannot be removed."

Now that might be true from within Windows Update, but won't rolling back to an earlier restore point effectively remove the update? Don't tell me MS could have fibbed here :-)

3. At this point, I couldn't find a way to activate the browser poll. The MS screenshot guide suggests that IE has to be your default browser, so I trundled off to set that (since it wasn't the default for me):

Control Panel -> Internet Options -> Programs tab -> Default web browser: "Make Default" (isn't it cheeky that this supposedly generic options dialogue has IE as the *only* browser you can make the default?!).

So has anyone else managed to see this poll for real on their IE7 install yet? My default browser was Firefox when I installed the update - I wonder if that's why it was ticked off by default and also didn't activate even after I made my default browser IE after the install? And, no, the claimed shortcut on my desktop didn't appear either before you ask.

Why haven't MS put a "Browser Poll" icon in the Control Panel so you can bring it up at any time, regardless of what your default browser is?! My feelings is that MS have botched this deliberately and hope people won't notice or care.

Edited 2010-02-23 21:00 UTC

Reply Score: 2