Microsoft randomises browser ballot

Microsoft has amended its browser ballot screen to randomise the order in which the browsers are displayed at start-up, as it looks to appease EU regulators.

Microsoft randomises browser ballot

The move is a response to complaints from browser makers including Mozilla, Google and Opera, which claimed that by displaying the browsers in alphabetical order – as was originally planned – the ballot screen gave an unfair advantage to whichever was listed first.

That would have placed Apple’s Safari as the first option, though Opera’s chief technology officer, Hakon Wium Lie claimed the system would lead to “opportunistic naming” with new browsers naming themselves “AAA Browser Maker” to achieve the spot.

The revised proposal has been submitted to the EU and could be approved by 15 December, according to reports. The browser ballot could be pushed to owners of Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 in February, though a final date has yet to be announced.

The ballot screen will allow users to select their own browser when they first install Windows, and it may also be rolled into a Windows Update for existing installations.

The screen was first mooted in July in response to a complaint by Opera to the EU, which claimed that by bundling a browser with its operating system, Microsoft was abusing competition law.

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