The European Browser Vote Starts Today!

By Craig Buckler

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?

  • It will be interesting to see if there’s any change in the browser demographics after this.
    My gut feeling is that most people are going to stick with the browser they’re already using.. unfortunately.

  • adam.hopkinson

    Interesting that you haven’t made any predictions for movement within the IE market, such as IE6 to IE8 – surely this is the biggest issue for web developers?

  • It’s pretty interesting to see Firefox 3.5 to be more popular in Europe than in the rest of the world.

  • Saidin

    I have not told my mother about this. Imm curious what she’ll choose and why she’ll make that choice.

    My money is on either Google (because to her: Google = internet) or Opera (because it’s a familiar word for her).

  • I’m OK with IE usage remaining at current levels if IE8 usage continues to outstrip older versions. Sure IE8 doesn’t support as much of the newer, shinier CSS3 stuff as all the others do, but at least it doesn’t cause anywhere as many headaches as its predecessors.

  • @adam.hopkinson

    Interesting that you haven’t made any predictions for movement within the IE market

    A very good point — I’ve updated the article.

  • Jason

    That explains something. When I started my computer just now there was what I assumed to be junk/spam on my screen asking me some questions about browsers. It didn’t look like an official message, it was a plain wide white box that looked exactly like a nuisance pop-up. So I clicked on it to go away.

    Not a bad idea in theory but this is really going to confuse a lot of people. As Google’s reasearch found recently, most people don’t even know what the word “browser” means. To them it’s just the Internet.

  • adam.hopkinson

    @Mike Borozdin

    It’s pretty interesting to see Firefox 3.5 to be more popular in Europe than in the rest of the world.

    I’ve got no stats to back this up, but I wonder if this is a recent change after the French and German governments recently recommended dropping IE for Firefox?

  • Clintonio

    Being a techie that I am, I actually educated my entire family on browsers. My family aren’t the brightest people, but just a few casual chats and an installation of Opera and they all now have opinions on the various browsers. We’re an Opera family now. In fact, I think everyone I talk to regularly uses Opera, and 90% of that is because of me.

    In fact, just posted this from Opera 10.50 RC4

  • Tony

    I think the world is eventually getting the message that the Internet doesn’t equal IE and that there are far better alternatives to it.

    The only real reason for sticking to IE is that some sites particularly those that require ActiveX are still about e.g. some Anti Virus and Banks.

    But the world will come to love the Fox :P

  • anon

    IE8 will increase at the expense of IE7; IE6 will remain the same; not too much else will change.

    Non technical users may try Firefox if they’ve heard it mentioned previously. Technically-minded users will have already installed it.

    But the simple fact is that most users don’t care too much which browser they use: a (fairly) recent survey conducted by Google showed that most people don’t even know what a browser is.

    Put it this way. I clean my teeth with a ZY11 toothbrush. If some nerdy-looking clown came along and told me NEVER to use the ZY11 and stressed the need to upgrade to the ZY12, I’d just look at him and laugh.

  • I can understand the first “big 5” being on the list and to some extent another ‘lite’ browser or two.

    Admittedly, I have been sleeping; though from what data have they compiled this list?

    From my understanding; some of the others are hardly used in Europe. In fact I’ve barely come across the names of one or two of the others; is this “Browser Choice List” a “realistic representation” of browser market share in Europe?

    I find it hard to believe it is, or is it just a case of the big players have approx 99% so they just scraped in some dregs so that they don’t look too biased.

    I can see the “newbie” being totally confused.

  • Bitmesh

    Way too many browsers on that list. The average joe will not experiment but will feel overwhelmed and thus picking what they’re used to.

  • Stevie D


    Interesting that you haven’t made any predictions for movement within the IE market, such as IE6 to IE8 – surely this is the biggest issue for web developers?

    I don’t foresee there being any significant impact on IE6 as a result of the ballot screen. People who are currently using IE6 on XP/Vista have not upgraded up until now, and they are unlikely to want to, or be able to. It may speed up the migration from IE7 to IE8.

    It is disappointingly ironic that, despite Opera setting this whole process in motion, they will probably benefit least from it – Firefox and Google are well-known brands, but Opera still haven’t got their heads round marketing. Maybe they are hoping that users of Opera Mini will recognise the brand and go with it – I hope so, but I’m not too optimistic about it.

  • xiaop

    Why there is no ChromePlus internet browser. I think it is the best now.

Get the latest in Front-end, once a week, for free.