Internet Explorer Losing Ground, Opera Chief Says

Dennis Faas's picture

Opera has reported that downloads of its browser have doubled since the release of the "browser ballot". In some countries, the numbers of downloads have risen four-fold.

The ballot, which will eventually appear to all European Union citizens who have Internet Explorer set as their default browser, prompts the user to select from a list of 12 browsers. It came about as a settlement between Microsoft and the EU after investigations into whether the browser being bundled with Windows was anti-competitive. (Source:

As noted earlier this month, Opera's downloads rocketed in the days immediately following March 1 when the screen was rolled out. At that point it was difficult to tell whether that was down to the ballot or the release of a new edition of Opera. At the same time, Mozilla noted that less than 10 per cent of its downloads were coming from the ballot.

Opera Brower Downloads Increase 130%

Figures produced by Opera today suggest the browser ballot screen is now having a very clear effect. It says that between Friday, March 12th and Sunday, March 14th, downloads were 130 per cent higher across the continent as a direct result of the choice screen. During that period, the ballot was responsible for 53 per cent of all downloads of the browser.

In a press release, Opera's technology chief Hakon Wium Lie said, "This confirms that when users are given a real choice on how they choose the most important piece of software on their computer, the browser, they will try out alternatives. A multitude of browsers will make the Web more standardized and easier to browse." (Source:

The latter comment may seem contradictory, but it appears Lie is arguing that if web designers know people from many different browsers are using their site, they'll be keener to follow official web design standards rather than being happy as long as their site works correctly in Internet Explorer.

Browser Ballot Full Effects Not Known

There are some interesting regional variations in the Opera figures, with downloads rising by 328 per cent in Poland, a rate six times higher than in Hungary. Why this is the case isn't entirely clear. The most likely explanation is that more users in Poland have been shown the screen so far.

Whether this increase plays out for all non-IE browsers won't be clear until market share figures appear. It will be some time before the full effects are known, as the ballot isn't expected to make its way to all users until mid-May.

By then we should start getting a better idea not just of how many people tried out a new browser, but how many stuck with it.

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