Microsoft Modifies European 'Browser Ballot' to Eliminate Safari's Advantage
In mid-October, it was reported that Apple's Safari for Windows browser was slated to receive prominent placement on a "browser ballot" designed to allow Windows users in Europe to select which Internet browser they wished to use. The ballot process was included by Microsoft to address anti-competitive concerns there, where the company has been found at fault for its integration of Internet Explorer with Windows.
Apple benefited from the proposed ballot plan due to Microsoft's proposal that the top five browsers be listed in alphabetical order by company, placing Apple's Safari browser for Windows in the primary position ahead of Google's Chrome, Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Mozilla's Firefox, and Opera. The arrangement, however, drew criticism from a variety of sources, unsurprisingly including Mozilla and Opera.
Yesterday, Bloomberg reported that Microsoft has revised its plans for the browser ballot, and among the revisions was a change that will randomize the list of top five browser each time the list displayed.
Under the modified settlement, computer users with Windows will see a "ballot screen" that randomly lists the top five Web browsers that compete with Internet Explorer, the people said. Users would then click on a browser's icon and the program would be downloaded from the Internet.
Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft, the world's largest software maker, agreed to changes in the ballot screen following complaints from Opera, Google Inc., and Mozilla Corp., maker of the Firefox browser, according to the people.
Despite the change, Apple still stands to gain from the inclusion of Safari on the primary ballot screen. Safari 4 for Windows held only a 0.29% share of the total worldwide market, suggesting that Apple may have much to benefit from in its inclusion with other major Windows browsers on the ballot.