The European Browser Vote Starts Today!

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browser choiceMicrosoft launch their “Browser Choice” update today. All European Windows XP, Vista and 7 users with Internet Explorer set as their default browser will receive an automatic update offering a choice from:

  • 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)

If you’re concerned this will radically increase your browser testing regime — don’t worry. Half the browsers are skinned versions of IE. Gecko is available in four browsers, Webkit in two and Presto in one. You’ll be covering a high proportion of the market if you’re already testing IE6+, Firefox, Opera, and Chrome or Safari.

Note that users will also be able to install and try more than one browser. It’ll be interesting to see whether people experiment, but I suspect many will try an alternative and switch back to IE if they don’t like it.

The big question: will the browser choice screen have any effect on market share? Here are the StatCounter statistics for February 2010 BC (Before Choice!):

Browser Statistics February 2010
Version Europe Worldwide
IE 8.0 24.58% 23.74%
IE 7.0 14.95% 19.00%
IE 6.0 5.94% 11.74%
Firefox 3.5+ 33.17% 26.20%
Firefox 3.0+ 4.93% 4.74%
Firefox 1.0+ 0.91% 0.87%
Opera 4.29% 1.94%
Chrome 6.52% 6.72%
Safari 3.66% 4.09%
Others 1.05% 0.96%

Here are my predictions for the next month:

  • IE usage will drop a few percent within Europe, but it won’t have a huge impact on worldwide figures
  • there will be a noticeable shift from IE7 to IE8
  • IE6 usage will not decrease — many of those users will have updates switched off, especially on corporate networks
  • Firefox will increase its share to match or slightly overtake IE
  • Chrome will increase by a percentage point or two
  • Opera and Safari will not change significantly
  • ‘Other’ browsers will increase slightly.

We’ll come back in a few weeks to find out.

What are your predictions? Have you put money on it?

Craig BucklerCraig Buckler
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Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.

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