By Craig Buckler

The European Browser Vote Results for Month 1

By Craig Buckler

It’s been one month since Microsoft launched their “Browser Choice” update. All European Windows XP, Vista and 7 users who use automatic updates should have received a small application which allows them to try any number of new browsers.

The original plan was to send the Browser Choice update to users who had IE set as their default browser. However, it appears to have been sent to everyone regardless. I can understand why — it would have been more of a technical challenge to single out users and, by sending it to everyone, Microsoft has a chance of luring users back to IE.

browser choiceThe following browsers are offered:

  • Microsoft IE8 (Trident rendering engine)
  • Mozilla Firefox (Gecko)
  • Google Chrome (Webkit)
  • Apple Safari (Webkit)
  • Opera (Presto)
  • Avant (Trident)
  • Flock (Gecko)
  • GreenBrowser (Trident)
  • K-meleon (Gecko)
  • Maxthon (Trident)
  • Sleipnir (switchable between Trident and Gecko)
  • Slim (Trident)

But has the choice screen made any difference to the browser market within the first month? I’ve analyzed the data from StatCounter for March 2010 and, although no statistics are perfect, it gives us a reasonable impression of current trends.

Browser Statistics February to March 2010
Browser version Europe Worldwide
February March change relative February March change relative
IE 8.0 24.58% 25.54% +0.96% +3.90% 23.74% 25.11% +1.37% +5.80%
IE 7.0 14.95% 14.12% -0.83% -5.60% 19.00% 18.33% -0.67% -3.50%
IE 6.0 5.94% 5.66% -0.28% -4.70% 11.74% 10.99% -0.75% -6.40%
Firefox 3.5+ 33.17% 33.36% +0.19% +0.60% 26.20% 26.47% +0.27% +1.00%
Firefox 3.0+ 4.93% 4.15% -0.78% -15.80% 4.74% 4.04% -0.70% -14.80%
Firefox 1.0+ 0.91% 0.75% -0.16% -17.60% 0.87% 0.74% -0.13% -14.90%
Opera 4.29% 4.32% +0.03% +0.70% 1.94% 1.96% +0.02% +1.00%
Chrome 6.52% 7.35% +0.83% +12.70% 6.72% 7.29% +0.57% +8.50%
Safari 3.66% 3.75% +0.09% +2.50% 4.09% 4.16% +0.07% +1.70%
Others 1.05% 1.00% -0.05% -4.80% 0.96% 0.91% -0.05% -5.20%

The change column shows the absolute increase or decrease in market share. The relative column shows that change in relation to its February 2010 share, e.g. 6.4% of IE6 users abandoned the browser in the past month.

I made some predictions last month, so let’s see how well I did…

  1. IE usage will drop a few percent within Europe, but it won’t have a huge impact on worldwide figures.

    IE’s net loss is smaller than I expected — just 0.15% in Europe and 0.05% worldwide.

  2. There will be a noticeable shift from IE7 to IE8.

    That happened, but would it have occurred anyway?

  3. IE6 usage will not decrease [significantly].

    IE6 is on the decline, but the European decrease is quite small.

  4. Firefox will increase its share to match or slightly overtake IE.

    Firefox made the biggest net loss and reduced by 0.75% in Europe and 0.56% worldwide.

  5. Chrome will increase by a percentage point or two.

    Chrome is the biggest winner but, again, it did not increase quite as much as I expected.

  6. Opera and Safari will not change significantly.

    Yay — spot on!

  7. ‘Other’ browsers will increase slightly.

    They actually decreased, but by a tiny margin.

Never take gambling tips from me!

Some of the figures aren’t surprising. For example, newer browsers are always likely to increase at the expense of older versions. Once you take those trends into account, the browser choice screen appears to have had an imperceivable effect on the market.

Perhaps it’s too early and the situation could change over a few more months. However, I’m not convinced it will. Anyone with reasonable web knowledge has already made their browser choice. The screen may help novices but, in my experience, most of those users don’t actually want a choice! They do a little surfing and rarely use advanced features such as bookmarks or tabs. You can’t expect them to investigate and install alternative browsers when they’re only using a fraction of IE’s facilities.

Incidentally, I visited a few novice users during the past month — all had the Browser Choice icon on their desktop and all had ignored it since day 1.

I’m slightly disappointed by the results, but that’s because I’m interested in browsers and want the best technologies to succeed. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Internet users couldn’t care less.

Has the Browser Choice screen made a difference to you or anyone you know? Will it be a success over the longer term? Or has Microsoft won another EU war despite losing the battles?

  • Particular in Pennsylvania

    Well look at that, an HTML table displaying tabular content. Good show!
    (Not that I’m surprised in the least)

    P.S. In your teaser text, I believe you meant to “pore” over the data.

  • It hasn’t appeared yet for me, running XP on Parallels in UK.

  • It was a dumb idea from the start, and this just confirms it. Nothing really happened besides a few updates to the latest version, and a few people jumping from Firefox to Chrome.

  • pactum

    I’m not surprised one wit. This whole thing was about punishing Microsoft for being successful and making them pay for the competition to make inroads on them. While I don’t care for IE (although frankly one could do worse than IE8) or Microsoft products generally, I don’t like the bullying that happened here. So frankly, I say hurrah.

  • @pactum

    This whole thing was about punishing Microsoft for being successful

    The case should have been brought when IE became tightly integrated in Windows 95 OSR2.5. I don’t believe the EU were punishing MS’s success and I think they were genuinely trying to give people an informed choice. But how many people need or want that choice? Do you choose your tyres or spark plugs when buying a car?

  • Anonymous

    > But how many people need or want that choice?

    There is absolutely no evidence that people don’t like to choose when given the chance.

    >Do you choose your tyres or spark plugs when buying a car?

    An increasing number of persons do that. It’s all about being informed.

    > It was a dumb idea from the start, and this just confirms it. Nothing really happened besides[…]

    Ok let’s bring back the time when you need to upgrade your os to upgrade your browser then talk about nothing has happened. Microsoft completely changed its policy over the last few years. The one that needs a good kick in the balls is Apple right now.

  • @Anonymous

    There is absolutely no evidence that people don’t like to choose when given the chance.

    …apart from the table above – it indicates that relatively few people have used the browser choice options.

    People like a choice if it’s something they understand. Choosing a meal in a restaurant is a great example … even then, few people are adventurous enough to choose something they’ve never eaten before.

  • USPatriot

    Microsoft: 1
    Craig: 0

    Yea! .NET is also superior to the competition!

  • @USPatriot
    Here we go again — do you actually read my posts??? But if it makes you happier then, yes, it was all me! I complained to the EU. The browser ballot was my idea. I choose the browsers and implemented the choice screen — without using .NET. The non-randomness was my fault.

    And I would’ve got away with it if it weren’t for those meddling Microsofties.

  • davidcroda

    Is there some thing in Europe which only allows one browser per PC? I am a little confused on this whole issue.

    I can understand the logic of the controversy, but I can’t believe there are that many users that can’t figure out how to type “firefox” or “chrome” or whatever into google and just get whatever browser they want. I guess the statistics are sort of reflecting the fact this in that it hasn’t seemed to make much of a difference. I would definitely be curious to see the same calculations done for months before the update.

  • Anonymous

    Firefox is the best! virus cant touch firefox not like EI.

    but, microsoft will be win! :)

    Have you heard about is a website where anyone can get an international blog and every entry, email and group is translated into 28 different languages for free. It’s awesome, finally a world without language barriers!

  • @davidcroda
    MS have come up against anti-competition legislation in Europe. They have a monopoly and bundling IE in Windows gives them an unfair advantage. They can use their leverage in the OS market to control the internet (another market).

    The choice screen is intended to inform users that alternative browsers can be used and 12 downloads are offered. Anyone who’s already installed Firefox or Chrome already knows this, but many millions of people don’t.

    I think the reason it hasn’t been particularly successful (yet) is because power users have already switched browsers. Novices don’t know or care what they’re using. IE8 is a capable browser and even IE6 and IE7 offer a good enough surfing experience for most websites.

  • the whole thing is anachronistic and stupid – the issue started back when paying for browsers was something that happened (sometimes) and it kind of made sense for Opera to complain that MS bundling a browser was unfair (as Opera was a paid app at the time).
    Since then much has changed and nobody expects to pay for a browser. Just a case of the court system being far too slow to keep up with the pace of the digital world.

  • Anonymous

    It seems like what they really need to do is launch some sort of information campaign.
    I know a lot of novice users who think internet explorer IS the internet. I can see why just giving them a choice wouldn’t have much effect because they have no idea WHY they should switch. Especially with the way inexperienced users are often hesitant to try new things on the computer. I totally see the anti-competitive point with IE being installed by default. But in reality I think it is going to take a lot more to get people to switch when they have used this portal to the internet for the past decade.
    Unfortunately =(

  • Anonymous

    Do you think because browsers are free that noone is making money now? When opera stopped charging did they suddenly stop paying all of their employees?

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