Decision time for European Windows users

It’s finally coming.

Many months ago, Microsoft lost an argument with the European Commission, the result of which is that it has to give Windows users a choice of which browser to use on their system, instead of just installing Internet Explorer 8 and leaving it up to users to go and find, then install, an alternative browser if they wished.

This choice will shortly be rolled out to Windows users in the UK, France and Belgium via Windows Update, with the rest of Europe following in March. Here’s a taste of what you’ll see.

This is all fine and dandy, and personally I would urge you to choose a non-Microsoft browser (Chrome is my current favourite), due to Internet Explorer’s ongoing security problems. You will find Chrome and Opera in particular to be much faster than Internet Explorer. Alternatively, if you like fiddling around under the hood, choose Firefox for its massive range of plugins.

However, there is one sad fact about all this: the millions of users out there who are likely to benefit most from switching browsers – the ones whose computers are most at risk – are the same users who probably have automatic updates turned off and have no idea how or why to turn it on, and will therefore never be given this choice. And conversely, users who have automatic updates turned on and know a little more about their computer are more likely to have switched to an alternative browser already.

I’m not sure if there is a solution.

13 Comments

  1. Thank you very much ,very useful.

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  3. I think that EU has a point. But I don’t understand why they don’t do the same thing with WMP? Because there are better alternatives for that crappy app. Anyway, I’m waiting for that update even if I already let my IE alone.

  4. So being in the EU is good for something! It seems a little strange that a software company has to advertise its competitors, but let’s face it, the browser is such a central part of people’s lives that you can’t really class it as just software – it’s an appliance, like a TV or a toaster.

  5. This is a good step in the right direction, I think. I do agree with you though that the people who may benefit most from this are likely to never even encounter this decision box. And even the ones that do will most likely just stick with IE because it’s the only one they’re familiar with and they’re not aware of the benefits of switching.

  6. The EC’s decision has been welcomed by Microsoft’s competitors, but the choice screen isn’t a permanent feature for European users and is only mandated for five years.But my choice will always be an Microsoft IE in my PC.

  7. Interesting to read some of your challenges with Windows across the pond. We certainly have our fair share of issues too. Wouldn’t recommend anyone using a Microsoft browser, no matter where in the world.

  8. The EU is all about giving options to people instead of forcing them do to something, and it was about time – I would definitely choose FF.

  9. The principal behind this move is right in my opinion, but it’s clear at the end of the day, how many end users care and will know the options and stay with big bad Microsoft?

  10. This decision came more from the fact that Microsoft is trying to maintain its monopol status than for the user and his user experience.

    I am using FF right now and Chrome for watching streams. I like working with Firefox because as you said it is so easy to customize it with a whole range of great plugins. Chrome seems to deal better with streams and such.

  11. I just bought a new pc, and it had explorer 8 on it. IT IS TERRIBLE. I installed firefox, and ok it does not look as nice, so what? It is defenitly a better choice

  12. Opera’s CEO explained that this system worked for them and Opera downloads got higher he says. I support Mozilla of course…

  13. It was about time they gave up the exclusivity of Internet Explorer and I think the case of Germany just hurried things up. But one major factor why people will not so eagerly change their browser, besides those mentioned by you is the power of habit. Those into computing have chosen alternatives to IE a long time ago, and the rest don’t even take into consideration the alternatives, because they have years of using IE and they find it difficult even when a slightly different version appear or they change the skin. I myself am under the power of habit and I use Opera. I’m using it for about 8 years now, although it has a lot of shortcomings. I only use firefox for specific tasks when the pug-ins come in hand or the reaction time of a site is generally slower.