In recent months and years there has been an extremely lengthy and somewhat tiresome squabble between technology giants Microsoft and the European Commission over how unfair it is that Internet Explorer web browser is packed into the Windows operating system and many users never become aware of any alternative such as Mozilla’s Firefox, Apple’s Safari or more recently Google’s Chrome. Anyway, the result of the conflict is that users of Windows PC’s will soon be faced with a big decision.
You will be presented with the choice via a selection process that will appear on your PC within the next few weeks. Testing of the process will be next week in several countries including the UK, and you can download it via Windows Update. Eventually though, it will be an automated update that everybody that’s connected to the internet, should receive.
So what does this mean? Well primarily it is aimed to raise awareness of the other browsers out there which arguably provide a better browsing experience than Internet Explorer. Some say they are faster. Some say they are more secure. In fact we even covered this subject over a year ago here on Zath when we asked if it was time to switch from Internet Explorer? It is certainly a highly debated topic and now more people than ever will have their say in the matter.
For those people who are currently using Internet Explorer, the next software update will bring you several obvious changes. Firstly, if you are using Windows 7, and currently have your IE icon pinned to your taskbar, they will be unpinned. This is not to say they will be removed, only taken from the taskbar. You can still locate it via the start menu. You can then pin your browser of choice back to the taskbar pretty easily afterwards.
In addition to this, an icon will be created labelled ‘browser choice’ on your desktop, this is so if you choose to ‘select later’ when confronted with the browser choice window, you can easily find it again. However, the first time you log on to your PC after the update, the window will automatically appear claiming ‘An important choice to make: your browser’. Then it will give a short description of what is to come before you agree to continue.
After you have proceeded from this point, the main window will display 5 banners relating to Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer 8 and Opera will appear in a random order. You can scroll across to find 7 alternative browsers. As well as a short advertisement from the developer of each browser, you will have the option to read more about each browser or simply just install it using a couple of large buttons. For anyone who currently uses older versions of IE, Microsoft do recommend an upgrade to the ‘faster and safer’ IE8.
So as you can tell, there is a fairly big decision to make as web browsers play a huge role in most people’s day to day life these days. Clearly, you want to make the experience as fast and painless as possible. This view is shared by the people over at Mozilla who came out with an open letter today iterating the same points. They have also set up opentochoice.org where users can discuss and compare their browser of choice.
The opening of the letter compares the browser choice to other day to day choices such as ‘where to eat’, ‘what to read’ and ‘who to spend time with’. Throughout they encourage you to investigate web browsers as thoroughly as possible and make an informed decision at the end of the day. 350 Million users worldwide currently use the Firefox browser, this is a tiny portion of the entire market these days. You can also take a look at the video below which shows Mozilla’s CEO; John Lilly talking about the big browser ballot!
Clearly developers of the alternative browsers will be delighted with the outcome of this settlement between Microsoft and the European Commission and many of them will be excited at the prospect of bringing down Internet Explorer’s huge percentage of the market and boosting their own footprint.
Personally, I have used many of the browsers in question recently including Firefox, Safari, Opera but primarily Chrome. It’s a personal preference but unfortunately I haven’t been a huge fan of Internet Explorer for years, therefore I cannot comment on how good or bad it is. But I do advise people to consider alternatives when faced with the decision.