IE Browser Ballot Stats Inconclusive, Report Says

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft's share of the web browser market has dropped since the release of the "browser choice" screen in Europe. But the decline is not significant enough to draw firm conclusions that the ballot is making a serious difference.

The browser ballot is the result of a settlement between Microsoft and the European Union (EU) over antitrust concerns related to Internet Explorer's packaging in the Windows operating system. The screen has been appearing gradually since March 1, 2010 to all users in EU countries who have Internet Explorer (IE) set as their default browser. It prompts them to choose one or more of the 12 leading browsers to install (or in the case of Internet Explorer, leave it as the default).

It's already known for certain that people are trying other browsers: Opera has reported significant increases in the number of downloads of its browser, and has directly traced this to the browser screen.

Number of Users Moving from IE Not Clear

The real question is whether other browsers are seeing an increase is at the expense of Internet Explorer. Early figures covering the ballot during March were inconclusive, as there's a regular back-and-forth movement between IE and Mozilla's Firefox browser. This is thought to be down to people being more likely to have installed Firefox at home than on office networks, so the figures are affected by working days versus weekends.

That said, the first figures for the month as a whole are now available. Across Europe, StatCounter reports that Internet Explorer had a tiny drop, from 45.50% to 38.32%, with Firefox actually having a bigger drop. It's difficult to say with certainty that the Firefox trouble is down to the browser screen and not just a normal month-to-month fluctuation. (Source:

While it's too early to draw firm conclusions, the available data suggests it's certainly possible that a lot of people tried out different browsers but returned to Internet Explorer.

Report Suggests Techs Prefer Alternatives to IE

Ars Technica, a very well known tech site for the technically inclined has also released figures covering browser use among visitors to its own site. They make for very different reading, with Firefox in the lead at 43.13% and Internet Explorer in fourth place behind Chrome and Safari. That apparent difference is because readers of the site don't necessarily represent the general public: those with a keen interest in tech issues are more likely to have already tried out rivals to Internet Explorer. (Source:

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