Microsoft introduces ‘browser shuffle’ ballot in Windows 7

The beleaguered EU edition of Windows 7 has taken another twist with Microsoft agreeing to randomise the list of the most popular browsers during the operating system’s setup.

The previous plan hatched earlier this year arrayed the five leading browsers according to alphabetic order of the vendor or parent company.

This saw Apple’s Safari in pole position followed by Google’s Chrome Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Mozilla’s Firefox and Opera’s Opera.

The original Windows 7 EU ‘browser ballot’ layout – good for Apple not so much for Firefox or Opera

The intent was to ensure that Internet Explorer didn’t gain any unfair advantage when customers were prompted to choose their default Web browser.

But the execution of this ‘browser ballot’ rankled Mozilla with Firefox designer Jenny Boriss claiming the proposed ordering of browsers “is about the worst option possible both for user choice and the Web as a whole. Windows users presented with the current design will tend to make only two choices: IE because they are familiar with it or Safari because it is the first item.”

One of her suggested alternatives was to randomise the browser orders for each Windows installation which according to Bloomberg is the path Microsoft has now adopted.

“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” Bloomberg’s Matthew Newman writes. “Users would then click on a browser’s icon and the program would be downloaded from the Internet.”