Windows Browser Ballot comes to an end as EC obligation expires

Microsoft logoMicrosoft will cease showing EU-based Windows users a selection screen offering a choice of different browsers to install, known as the browser ballot.

In December 2009, and after lengthy negotiations, the European Commission and Microsoft finally agreed on the form and nature of the Windows browser ballot. The ballot was offered to all Windows users in the EU, giving them a choice of a dozen or so different browsers to install on their PCs, in response to complaints that Microsoft's bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows harmed competition in the browser market.

Windows Browser Ballot comes to an end as EC obligation expires

The software company and industry regulator agreed that the ballot would be offered for five years. According to a Knowledge Base article that Microsoft published today, that five-year obligation has now ended and new Windows users will no longer be shown the screen.

While there were early signs that the browser ballot screen was influencing browser usage in the EU, with Mozilla attributing some European Firefox growth to the selection page, long-term trends strongly suggest that it was next to useless. In spite of equally prominent placement on the selection screen, Opera's share even within Europe appears to have declined over the last five years. So too have Firefox and Internet Explorer. Chrome, however, has experienced significant growth.

Nonetheless, the screen has been extraordinarily expensive for Microsoft. An oversight in Windows 7 Service Pack 1 meant that for a 14-month period, some Windows users in the EU weren't shown the screen when they should have been, resulting in a whopping €561 million fine for Microsoft.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Internet Explorer, Microsoft

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