Wednesday 21 March 2018

Microsoft reshuffles browsers on ballot screen

The ballot box that Windows users will be presented with after the latest update
The ballot box that Windows users will be presented with after the latest update

Matt Warman

The Windows-maker has adjusted the algorith that generates the order in which browsers are shown on its ballot screen, as Opera says downloads have tripled since process began.

Microsoft’s “browser ballot”, offering European users the choice of a range browsers when they start up Internet Explorer, has been adjusted so that it shows the main contenders in a random order.

The previous version had been using an algorithm that Microsoft says has now been “improved”, so that Google’s browser, Chrome, is less likely to take the first spot and Internet Explorer less likely to take the fifth.

The ballot, imposed on Microsoft by the European Commission, has been rolling out since March 1, and is a response to browser maker Opera’s complaint that bundling Internet Explorer with Windows gave Microsoft an unfair advantage.

Mozilla, the manufacturers of Firefox, said that more than 50,000 downloads of its software have come via Microsoft’s choice screen since it launched, but that this is still only a small part of the total downloads, which can reach half a million a day, according to the New York Times.

Opera software said that its downloads in Belgium, France, Britain, Poland and Spain had tripled over the same period.

Makers of less popular web browsers, however, have complained to the EU that their products were being given too little prominence on the ballot screen.

A petition signed by the makers of the Avant, Flock, Maxthon, Slim, Sleipnir and Green browsers has been submitted calling for the browsers, only visible if users scroll right from the first ballot screen, to be made more conspicuous.

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