"Ballot screen" coming to Office 2010, too

By on August 6, 2009, 12:52 PM
On January 15, Microsoft was charged with seeking to hinder rivals by coupling its browser, Internet Explorer, with its Windows operating system. It was accused of abusing its market dominance by harming innovation and limiting consumer choice. After six-plus months of rope pulling, Microsoft gave in to European regulators and proposed a "ballot screen" solution which would prompt users to choose between several third party browsers on the system's first boot-up.

It would seem that the software giant now plans to implement a similar feature for the coming version of its popular Office suite. There are few details, but it is reported that a similar screen will be used in Office 2010 to determine the default format files will be saved in. It too will prompt users the first time the program runs, and the preference will be saved unless it's manually changed later.

Microsoft hasn't disclosed what file types will be on the screen apart from its own DOC/DOCX format, and the open source ODF file type. In its statement, the company did say that it would make tools available to enterprises in the EU, so they can auto-specify which formats will be seen when their users run Office. Again, I ask you: Where is the damn line drawn?




User Comments: 31

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raybay said:

Please explain what you mean by your challenge, "...Again, I ask you: Where is the damn line drawn?"

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

@RayBay: Read: [link]

That is linked in the first paragraph, but I will add one to the final sentence to minimize confusion. Thanks .

Captain828 Captain828 said:

And some of tomorrow's news:

- EU forces ballot screen for multimedia player in Windows 7

- EU forces ballot screen for MS notepad

- EU forces Antivirus ballot screen for MS Windows 7

- EU forces ballot screen for ballot screen layout in next MS OSes

- MS posts job offer for "Ballot Screen Specialist"

Staff
Rick Rick, TechSpot Staff, said:

And some of tomorrow's news:

- EU forces ballot screen for multimedia player in Windows 7

- EU forces ballot screen for MS notepad

- EU forces Antivirus ballot screen for MS Windows 7

- EU forces ballot screen for ballot screen layout in next MS OSes

- MS posts job offer for "Ballot Screen Specialist"

Exactly. There has to be a point where this stops or it becomes so obtrusive and confusing it actually *hurts* consumers.

I can't wait for the EU to fine Microsoft for collusion with other major browsers because they didn't list K-meleon and Lynx.

johnehoffman said:

This is all window dressing for ***** politicians and bureaucrats who are convinced that the public is as dumb and lazy as they are. In truth, most computer users are capable of downloading whichever browser they want and saving Office documents to whichever format they want. (Perhaps having a menu screen with a choice of browsers is helpful for the bureaucrats who can't spell Firefox, Safari, Chrome or Opera.)

Government, by the mentally impaired, for the mentally impaired. That's what the 21st century has come to.

fwilliams said:

To bad losers. Microsoft has used it's illegal criminal monopoly long enough. Now when someone actually makes them play fair you whine about it. Operating systems are meant to run programs, not just the programs your company stole from others.

Algoz Algoz said:

I'm not a great M$ lover, in fact I choose Cupertino over Redmond. But, I do believe that if a bunch of people create a product, develop it, market it to the level of market dominance, then hats off to them! They shouldn't be forced to compromise it by EU bureaucrats.

Sure some users lack knowledge and sophistication to make an informed choice, but really, you don't see Ford being forced to offer a GM engine to consumers in the name of 'fairness'.

No, I think the EU has got this wrong and found another way to generate tax revenue!

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

@Algoz: Amen.

tengeta tengeta said:

And you people said I was stupid for saying these eballots would start showing up everywhere for even more dumb reasons.

WHAT NOW?

TJGeezer said:

tengeta said:

And you people said I was stupid for saying these eballots would start showing up everywhere for even more dumb reasons.

WHAT NOW?

How about a MS ballot on installation to set whether it installs Windows or Linux and if Linux, with Gnome or KDE. That way, Ford could be forced to sell Kia, so to speak. But I suppose MS might possibly consider that unfair.

Guest said:

@ fwilliams

Dude, just go n observe any OS, whether Ubuntu or Mac OS X or any other.....

ALL come with the basic necessities installed to ensure a smooth usage ride. And if people have their preferences they do install stuff like Firefox. but for the other standard users, this entire thing is a bother. And it's only fair that MS provides its best to its consumers.

(in Mac u got Itunes (which sucks), Safari (whose windows version sux on mem) and all apps beginning with i, AND i hear absolutely NO complaints!)

Tedster Tedster, Techspot old timer....., said:

socialists at their worst. And to think the USA is headed in the same direction.....

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

socialists at their worst. And to think the USA is headed in the same direction.....

and I think we are further down that road than a lot of people realize....

Guest said:

What's so bad about these ballot screens? Its really annoying that Office 2007 saves in .docx that only Office07 can read! And who wants IE anyways? I love to have a choice and not having to uninstall tons of unwanted components from the OS, like IE.

Guest said:

Where does it say the EU is forcing/requesting this for Office?

Staff
Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

Although not entirely similar, I find it extremely annoying to have IE presenting it's first time run dialogs so you can setup accelerators (IE8) but also a default search engine (there's the resemblance).

Instead I'd rather get a straight quick loading browser that I can use from scratch and download Firefox or any other alternative if I wished to do so. Adding a less intrusive way to inform users would at least be better.

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

The only ballot screen that I need is the one that says, "Would you ever like Windows to display a ballot screen? Y/N"

Of course 'N' would be the correct answer.

What's up with the free world EU? You make us Colonialists look like we're the ones with all the freedom now. We don't have this non-sense in our Operating Systems, and I'm proud of it! We get the product as the designers envisioned - the way that it should be.

Guest said:

You can "save" a document in older version formats. You don't "have" to save in docx format. OMG I hate lazy users... LOL

Guest said:

"...Again, I ask you: Where is the damn line drawn?"

Blurring editorial content with a (supposedly) journalistic article is amaturish and sloppy. If this is the news section of the site, it should contain a reporting-of-the-facts and just that, not opinion pieces. Unless you're Fox News that is.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

"...Again, I ask you: Where is the damn line drawn?"

Blurring editorial content with a (supposedly) journalistic article is amaturish and sloppy. If this is the news section of the site, it should contain a reporting-of-the-facts and just that, not opinion pieces. Unless you're Fox News that is.

OH pleeeaasse unidentified guest, try....try not to be absurd. could you be a little more transparent in your intellectual dis ingenuousness ? and you know what I mean. if Matt had come down on your side, nary a word would have been uttered (anonymously) and he would not have been

amaturish and sloppy
your comment about fox news was very revealing....try not to worry unidentified guest, 78% of the press openly admits to being liberal....so you have three quarters of the all important fourth estate on your side.

by the way... you misspelled amateurish (i rather think that's sloppy and amateurish)

TJGeezer said:

red1776 said:

78% of the press openly admits to being liberal

Good lord. Kindly source it or admit it's bullshit. And are you including Fox? Geez. You don't seem to understand the dynamics of journalism at all. Publishers set editorial policy, editors enforce it, reporters want a paycheck and mostly go along to get along no matter how they vote, and the day 78% of publishers in any media are "liberals" (whatever that means these days) hell's gonna need to issue ice skates.

That said, an informal blog-style news center like this has no obligation at all to pretend to objectivity. That's just ridiculous.

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

Blurring editorial content with a (supposedly) journalistic article is amaturish and sloppy. If this is the news section of the site, it should contain a reporting-of-the-facts and just that, not opinion pieces. Unless you're Fox News that is.

While we try and keep things clean and professional, this is not a mainstream ("journalistic" news outlet. Admittedly, I am not a journalist - simply a literate tech enthusiast.

If anything, our front page is (in my opinion) closer to what you'd find on a tech blog than on CNN. I'm sorry if that's just not your taste, but it is what it is - and isn't what it isn't, for that matter.

No matter how harsh, I appreciate the criticism, so feel free to tear in - I'm not about to cry myself to sleep.

*Edit*

That said, an informal blog-style news center like this has no obligation at all to pretend to objectivity. That's just ridiculous.

Bingo.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

Good lord. Kindly source it or admit it's bullshit. And are you including Fox? Geez. You don't seem to understand the dynamics of journalism at all. Publishers set editorial policy, editors enforce it, reporters want a paycheck and mostly go along to get along no matter how they vote, and the day 78% of publishers in any media are "liberals" (whatever that means these days) hell's gonna need to issue ice skates.

That said, an informal blog-style news center like this has no obligation at all to pretend to objectivity. That's just ridiculous.

TJ...are you actually serious!? do you realize what you said? ...lets have a gander

Im not sure what rock you have been under, but the media has been rather open about the fact that they are liberal for quite a long time.

Good lord. Kindly source it or admit it's bullshit

not often you good lord and bull**** in the same sentence, very creative

And are you including Fox?

RATS! ya got me! see i was hoping that in my calculating methodology, you would not notice that from the tens of thousands of journalists, newsrooms,editors, publishers, etc etc across America, i could get away with excluding the Fox newsroom from the study, and it it would skew the numbers in my favor.....that's some solid thinking right there.

You don't seem to understand the dynamics of journalism at all. Publishers set editorial policy, editors enforce it, reporters want a paycheck and mostly go along to get along no matter how they vote

ummm yeah...kind of the basis of my assertion, if you you have a liberal publisher and editor, it would be okay for a liberal journalist to hand in a ?????....come on you can get it! ......liberal story!! yay very good. take a Tawana Brawley out of petty cash.

and the day 78% of publishers in any media are "liberals" (whatever that means these days)

Uhh, this is my favorite of your uttering's. If you do not know what the crux of my argument even is......how can you disagree with me?? we might be on the same side!

I do agree with this however,

That said, an informal blog-style news center like this has no obligation at all to pretend to objectivity. That's just ridiculous

As Matthew so eloquently put it.....Bingo

here are your sources, and there are plenty more where these come from. of course the best source would be to just open your eyes and pay attention.

[link]

[link]

[link]

Guest said:

To those that said Office 2007 requires you to save in DOC/DOCX format, is untrue (which has already been stated, but let me continue). If you so desire, you, as a user, can set the default "SAVE AS" type in the application's settings screen.

It is slightly different in each Office application, and I believe one of them may not have the option available, but here's how to do it in Microsoft Word 2007:

1. Click on the new "Orb" (File) menu button.

2. At the bottom right of the menu's "window" is a button labelled "Word Options" - click it.

3. Click on the "Save" selection on the left.

4. The very first option is "Save files in this format".

We use this at work so that staff members save (by default, they can override it) in *.DOC (Word 97-2003 format). RTF, ODT, TXT, and XML file versions (as well as WPS) are also available. The main difference this article is stating is the option will be much more visible (i.e.: in your face), and will include more formats. However, when an option exists in a GUI method (i.e.: not the registry or some convoluted shell hack like some OSX apps), it is simply either UX designer or user negligence to blame.

Algoz Algoz said:

Maybe we can consider whats behind all this ballot screen stuff...

Certain parts of the EU, especially the French authorities have moved to Open Office as their office suite. This is not a recent development, see...

[link]

[link]

You'll see that North America deployments are significantly lower.

Now, everyone in Europe knows that the political power is the French-German axis. Its not too much of a stretch to see why the French/EU would want to force the ODF to have equal billing in any office suite, whether it be open or proprietary.

The thing is, Open Office is being starved of investment, with some reporting the central development team is down to just 6 (I don't want to get into the merits or otherwise of community based support), which is quite a risk when running government departments.

So, my opinion, M$-Office should support fully the odf format, and Open Office should support fully the M$-Office formats (docx, xlsx etc). This gives consumer choice.

But if either organisation choose not to support the other's format, thats their decision.

Finally, IMHO, the EU should have no right to force an entrepreneurial organisation to compromise its product (so long as its legal). Same applies to ballot screen for browser preference,

Guest said:

I have NEVER understood this issue, I use IE and go straight to www.getfirefox.com and get my browser, so if MS was to release a Windows without an browser, than how can you get the one you want? It's like including Continental tires on a new Ford, would you rather buy your new car without tires? Seems like a trivial issue.

Algoz Algoz said:

I have NEVER understood this issue, I use IE and go straight to www.getfirefox.com and get my browser, so if MS was to release a Windows without an browser, than how can you get the one you want? It's like including Continental tires on a new Ford, would you rather buy your new car without tires? Seems like a trivial issue.

And I am sure millions of people do the same, and your Ford analogy is good. But, this is not a trivial issue. Millions and millions of Euros of fines to M$ should be enough to convince anybody this is not trivial.

Guest said:

Personally?

Yes, ship a browser with the OS. Obviously MS is going to ship their own. A web browser has become a "basic need" when it comes to computing these days. The only thing that opens MS up to complaint is (a) they have an OS of their own, and (b) they have the most market share.

I think the "ballot" is rather silly, frankly (and moreso in Office -there's a dropdown menu, folks!) Instead, if "mindshare" or "awareness" is the big complaint, have MS, Mozilla, Apple, Opera and Google all agree to include a link on their browsers with an informational page and links to download alternates. Unobtrusive, but available.

I don't think it's needed, really, given you can't pick up a computer magazine without running across SOME mention of an alternate (Chrome seems to be it these days, with Firefox popping its head up with regularity.) But if they want to be sure "everyone's seen," do it that way.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

Browser Total Market Share

View Trend Microsoft Internet Explorer 67.68%

View Trend Firefox 22.47%

View Trend Safari 4.07%

View Trend Chrome 2.59%

View Trend Opera 1.97%

View Trend Netscape 0.67%

View Trend Opera Mini 0.29%

View Trend Mozilla 0.07%

View Trend Konqueror 0.05%

View Trend ACCESS NetFront 0.04%

View Trend Playstation 0.03%

View Trend Danger Web Browser 0.02%

View Trend Obigo 0.01%

View Trend Microsoft Pocket Internet Explorer 0.01%

View Trend Blazer 0.00%

View Trend WebTV 0.00%

View Trend Lotus Notes 0.00%

View Trend BlackBerry 0.00%

View Trend iCab 0.00%

View Trend ANT Galio 0.00%

View Trend MaxThon 0.00%

source: [link]

Guest said:

If you didn't have rules like the EU have, we would all be forced to use hotmail and buy all our books from MSN-shop. We have the same rules, but don't use them on Microsoft. We should. Microsoft forced Netscape out of the browser market with unfair competition.

Don't you understand that a monopoly can be abused? Or are you faking it?

Algoz Algoz said:

If you didn't have rules like the EU have, we would all be forced to use hotmail and buy all our books from MSN-shop. We have the same rules, but don't use them on Microsoft. We should. Microsoft forced Netscape out of the browser market with unfair competition.

Don't you understand that a monopoly can be abused? Or are you faking it?

Sure monopolies can (and are) abused. And I guess you are suggesting that the EU is forcing the ballot screen to obviate the perceived M$ abuse. Well, why not go a stage further and have the EU demand the following ballot screens...

WMP or VLC or Miro

Wordpad or ABIword

Outlook Express (or whatever it is now) or Thunderbird

etc

Tell you what, lets make M$ bundle Ubuntu and put that on a ballot screen as well. The IE argument is just as valid, but the scale exposes just how proposterous the ballot screen is.

However, none of this will stop institutionalised monopoly abuse.

In respect of your comment about the EU rules having saved me from having to use MSN and Hotmail, please don't assume that all consumers are dumb, lack knowledge and won't exercise choice when buying!

Finally, if as you say, the EU type rules are not implemented in the US on M$, then (by logical extension of your argument), explain how Apple manages to exist?

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