Browser Makers Unhappy with Ballot Screen Proposal

As you all undoubtedly know, the European Union and Microsoft are trying to work out some sort of a settlement regarding the Internet Explorer case. Microsoft made a very detailed proposal for a browser ballot screen earlier this year, and the EU was relatively satisfied. Now, various browser makers have told Reuters that they are not satisfied with Microsoft’s proposal.

The proposed browser ballot screen would look like a web page, with all the major browsershaving the same amount of screen space to sell their product. Opera, Mozilla, Google, and other ECIS members have told Reuters that this setup is not what they are after, and are asking the European Union not to rush the case.

“We are also eager to close the case but we want to make sure the settlement is effective. We think the current solution on the table will not be an effective settlement,” Opera’s Chief Technology Officer Hakon Wium Lie said, “We think they need to hear and listen to our comments.”

They would much rather see the ballot screen look and act like a Windows application, instead of it being a web page. “We think the ballot screen is a good starting point for discussion but the way they thought of implementing it, we think it is not an effective remedy,” Wium Lie said, “What we would like is to have a native ballot screen which looks and feels like other Windows software updates and not running inside the browser. That is what Windows users are used to getting.”

In addition, they are also worried about the fact that computer makers can turn the ballot screen off – in other words, they can install a default browser for the user. I’m guessing the other browser makers are afraid that OEMs will just stick to what they know – Internet Explorer – instead of going with something new.

I think it’s all getting a little silly. I’ve argued before that the very success of Firefox, as well as the adoption rates for Chrome and Safari are indications that the browser market is actually much more competitive than most people think. I see much more merit in somehow (I don’t know how) forcing Microsoft to adopt web standards.

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