Microsoft's European browser ballot now live, Opera benefiting

Posted Mar 4, 2010 by Brenton Currie
Microsoft's browser ballot website,, yesterday went live, allowing Europeans to quickly and easily download and install browsers other than Microsoft's Internet Explorer, and already Opera is seeing a surge in downloads from the EU.
The site, available now, will be the first browser page which shows to users who install or buy a new Windows 7 PC in the European nations, as part of a move on Microsoft's behalf to satisfy European Union regulators.
Users can select from more popular and well known browsers such as Apple's Safari, the Opera browser, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer 8 and Google Chrome, or from lesser known competitors including Mazthon, K-Meleon, Sleipnir, Avant, Flock, GreenBrowser and FlashPeak.
Results of the new ballot site are already noticeable according to Rolf Assev, Opera's chief strategy officer, who told Reuters that the company has witnessed almost triple the downloads since the site launched.
"Since the browser choice screen rollout, Opera downloads have more than tripled in major European countries, such as Belgium, France, Spain, Poland and the UK," he said.
But a European lobbyist group, The European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS), suggests the site isn't enough, and that Microsoft should be forced to spread the site globally, saying that by Microsoft making IE the default browser it impacts on competition.
“Microsoft agreed to change its business practices in the face of formal charges from the Commission. Consumers deserve the same unbiased browser choice on all the world’s more than 1 billion personal computers,” the group said.
“Microsoft has bundled its own Internet Explorer Web browser with Windows and most users accept it instead of trolling the Web for alternatives. Because Windows runs on 90 percent of the world’s computers, that bundling has slowed innovation in browsers. During the first years of this century, it ground almost to a halt when there was little competition."