The Browser Choice Screen – we are still not happy

 Les éditeurs de navigateurs se mobilisent contre Microsoft – DegroupNews.com (France – French language)

My comments on this situation

There is still some disquiet in the European Union regarding the Browser Choice Screen that Microsoft launched in that market on 1 March 2010 to satisfy the European Commission’s anti-trust issue concerning their delivery of Internet Explorer 8 as the standard browser for the Windows platform.

The main issue was that the only browsers that were immediately visible to the user were the “top 5” desktop browsers – Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Microsoft Internet Explorer and Opera. The user had to “pan” the menu rightwards to see the other browsers like Maxthon, GreenBrowser, K-Meleon and Flock. This had annoyed the developers of these alternative browsers, some of which were “super-browsers” built on either the Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer codebases and were endowed with extra features.

These browser developers want the European Commission to mandate an easily-identifiable visual cue as part of the Browser Choice Screen user-interface to indicate more browsers available. This is even though there is a scroll-bar of variable width under the browser list that can be dragged left and right to reveal the other browsers.

Personally, I would also look into the idea of an alternative user-interface layout in the form of a 6 x 2 grid for the browser-selection part rather than the current “ribbon” menu. This can cater for more browsers to be shown to  the user, but the downside would be that it requires more screen real-estate which limits its utility on smaller screens like netbooks. It may also make the user-interface more cluttered and intimidating.

It is certainly a situation that reminds me of many council planning-permission fights that I have read about in various local newspapers whenever one of the big American fast-food chains like KFC or McDonalds wants to set up shop in a neighbourhood. A very constant argument that I read of in these reports is that the fast-food chain’s logo and colour scheme stands out like a sore thumb against all the other small cafés that had existed previously in that area. The alternative browser developers like Maxthon see themselves as the small café who is put out of business by the “big boys” (Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer & co) who are seen in a similar light to McDonalds, KFC & co.

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