In response to a complaint from Opera Software, a company in Norway that developed the Opera Web browser, Microsoft entered into a settlement agreement with the European Union (EU) that requires Microsoft to offer Windows users in Europe a choice of Web browsers. Microsoft was to start offering the browser choice this month (March, 2010) and I just received an email from a friend in Europe who says:
The browser choice (Browser Ballot) update to Windows has arrived ! On start up I see a large window telling me how important it is that I choose my browser. The only options are to select one (or more) for installation, or click "Remind me later". There is no "no thank you" button, no "don't ask me again" button, and no "close" button. From what I read, "later" means "next time I boot", but so far that hasn't happened for me, so I don't know when I'll be given the choice again.
Finding themselves in the position where they had to offer a choice of browsers, I suspect that Microsoft has deliberately done it in the most clumsy and irritating way possible, so that they can blame any inconvenience on Opera and the EU. "Not us!", they'll say, "We were forced to do it". Yes, maybe, but they could have complied in a far more user-friendly way. A choice during setup, and maybe a repeat offer of choice once a month, always with a "don't ask me again" option, would have been far more sensible.
A little research has given me the interesting fact that this particular Windows update cannot be uninstalled. However, that same research also gave me a way to disable it :
Take a look at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2019411
I understand this was not in the initial release, but so many system administrators complained that they would lose control of their networks if everyone had a free choice of browser, that this "get out" had to be made available.
Those of us in the U. S. and other countries outside the EU may not be safe from the "Browser Ballot." According to an article in Computerworld, "A lobbying group composed of Microsoft rivals today called on antitrust regulators worldwide to pressure the company into offering a browser ballot screen to their citizens."