Microsoft Browser Ballot Makes it Debut in Europe

Dennis Faas's picture

The Microsoft browser ballot has been under way for a few days now, and there's already an indication that some people are moving away from Internet Explorer.

How the Microsoft Browser Ballot Works

This week saw the debut of a scheme which prompts Internet Explorer users in Europe to choose one or more browsers from a list of the 12 most popular on the continent. It's a system put together by Microsoft to stave off regulator criticism that including Internet Explorer as the default browser in Windows gave it an unfair advantage in its market over competitors such as Apple's Opera Browser, Mozilla's Firefox, Google's Chrome Browser, and similar.

It's already been suggested that the ballot would have little effect. Those concerns followed a study suggesting most users were unaware of the impending "ballot screen", with some even predicting users might simply dismiss it as an ad-style pop-up window.

Apple Says Ballot has Boosted Downloads

The browser ballot is expected to be released in full-force to all users in Europe in next week's scheduled Windows Update.

Even though the system is being tested on a select few countries, Apple is reporting that downloads have tripled for their Opera browser in some countries already. (Source:

It's also worth noting that downloads for Opera would have risen anyway as a new edition of the browser was released on Tuesday. But the firm insists the increase is much higher than it would have expected and credits the browser ballot.

If the pattern continues, it could mean that newer browsers such as Google Chrome begin taking market share away from Internet Explorer. To date it appears most of Chrome's gains have come at the expense of other non-Microsoft browsers such as Mozilla's Firefox.

Browser Ballot Order Not Truly Random

Now the ballot screen is in operation, there are some new criticisms. The team behind Flock, Europe's sixth largest browser, complains that the browser ballot screen doesn't make it clear enough that there are more options available beyond listing the first five major browsers, which are visible at first glance.

Additionally, an IBM employee claims that the system that randomizes the order in which those five browsers are displayed is flawed, meaning that Google's Chrome gets the first position more often than it should. (Source:

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