Mozilla complains about IE ballot solution

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Mozilla complains about IE ballot solution

Proposal is still biased.

Senior executives at Mozilla have argued that recent proposals by Microsoft to appease European Commission (EC) anti-trust regulators over the unfair bundling of Internet Explorer (IE) in Windows products do not go far enough.

After a series of back and forth moves, Microsoft agreed to present consumers with a ballot screen offering a choice of browsers. Users would then pick one to install as their default browser.

However, Mozilla general counsel Harvey Anderson wrote in a blog posting that modifications need to be made to the ballot screen solution, which the EC seems close to accepting.

Anderson claimed that, at present, the ballot screen will be presented only to "users who have set IE as their default web browser", but nothing is mentioned about those who bought PCs with IE pre-installed.

He also recommended that Microsoft should be forced to work with browser vendors directly in an informal group including the EC to iron out ballot implementation problems and address what Mozilla sees as a bias towards IE in the current solution.

"IE may become the default by being selected. It may also become the default if the user simply ignores the ballot," Anderson wrote. "It may also become the default if the user is unable to figure out how to use the ballot. Finally, it may become the default even if the user expresses a desire to try one of the other browsers but fails to achieve an alternative browser install."

Anderson also expressed concerns that, even if a user chose and successfully installed an alternative browser as default, IE would still "occupy prominent real estate on the Desktop and Start Menu".

"The other browsers do not have this luxury and the advertising opportunity it provides merely through placement," he added.

Any solution must be evaluated over time to determine whether it is making a difference to the market and user behaviour, said Anderson in closing.

"The ultimate success of the proposal, however, will depend on Microsoft's long-term commitment to realise not just the words of the proposal, but its spirit, so a lot still remains to be seen," he wrote.

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