Microsoft's browser ballot screw-up cost Firefox 9M downloads
Mozilla details damage caused by rival's omission of browser ballot screen in the EU
Computerworld - Microsoft's 16-month browser ballot screw-up in the European Union cost Mozilla an estimated 8.8 million downloads of its Firefox browser, the open-source vendor's head lawyer said Tuesday.
Microsoft faces fines that could reach into the billions for omitting a browser choice screen it was supposed to show European users of Windows 7. The blunder began in late February 2011, when Microsoft shipped Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1), and ran through early July 2012, when authorities notified the company of the oversight.
According to Harvey Anderson, Mozilla's general counsel, Firefox's daily download average fell 63% from approximately 54,000 to a low of 20,000 before Microsoft rolled out a fix for the snafu last summer. After Microsoft updated EU users' Windows 7 PCs with a patch to restore the ballot screen, Firefox downloads increased 150% to an average of approximately 50,000, Anderson claimed.
During the more than 16 months when the ballot was not offered EU users, Mozilla "lost" between 6 and 9 million downloads. Anderson included a graph in his blog post, however, that put the impact at a more specific 8.8 million Firefox downloads.
Last week, the European Competition Commission -- the EU government's antitrust agency -- served Microsoft with formal charges for failing to display the required browser choice screen to systems upgraded to Windows 7 SP1. Previously, the Commission had said that some 28 million users in the EU had been shortchanged.
The browser ballot was the result of a deal Microsoft struck with the Commission in late 2009 after officials launched an investigation triggered by a complaint from Norwegian browser maker Opera Software. Opera accused Microsoft of manipulating the battle for browser share by tying Internet Explorer (IE) to Windows.
The settlement required Microsoft to display a screen in Windows that provided download links to other browsers, including Apple's Safari, Google's Chrome, Mozilla's Firefox and Opera Software's Opera. Safari has since been dropped from the deal, as Apple has halted development of the Windows version.
Microsoft claimed that the omission was simply a "technical error," then apologized and quickly created an update to address the problem.
However, Microsoft blew a chance to correct its flub -- and save it from what may end up being massive fines -- just weeks after the release of Windows 7 SP1, when it ignored a tip from a customer who had noticed the missing browser ballot and reported that to the company's support staff.
Mozilla's decline in the share of the European market sharply accelerated during the stretch when Microsoft was not showing Windows 7 users the ballot.
- Chrome users won't give up, keep pressing Google to restore old-style new tab page
- Google quashes 31 vulnerabilities, restores Metro mode 'steppers' with Chrome 34
- Firefox's UI face-lift on track for April debut
- Ex-Mozilla engineer blames Microsoft's rules for Metro Firefox's death
- Mozilla patches 20 Firefox flaws, plugs Pwn2Own holes
- Google reverses field, promises to restore Chrome's scrollbar arrows
- Update: Google ships Chrome 33, patches 28 bugs
- Mozilla's top exec defends in-Firefox ads, revenue search
- Mozilla taps in-Firefox ads as it searches for more revenue
- Mozilla ships Metro Firefox beta for Windows 8
- Why Projects Fail CIOs are expected to deliver more projects that transform business, and do so on time, on budget and with limited resources.
- The New Business Case for Video Conferencing: 7 Real-World Benefits Beyond Cost-Savings This whitepaper provides insight into the value of video conferencing in today's business environment, and how organizations are using visual collaboration to find...
- Gartner Magic Quadrant for Client Management Tools The client management tool market is maturing and evolving to adapt to consumerization, desktop virtualization, and an ongoing need to improve efficiency.
- Audit Ready and Asset Optimized: The Solid Promise of an Intelligent Software Asset Management Solution In this paper Frost & Sullivan examines the benefits of enterprise-grade Software Asset Management solutions, and how these solutions serve as the convergence...
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy... All Regulatory Compliance White Papers | Webcasts