Mozilla designer wants Windows ballot screen changed

By on October 16, 2009, 2:03 PM
Microsoft is finally drawing close to an agreement with the European Commission, in a longstanding dispute over alleged anti-competitive practices and abuse of its dominant market position to get people using Internet Explorer. The proposed solution, as you may already know, involves giving users in Europe a ballot screen which would show a choice of browsers on the systemís first boot up.

After several months of back and forth discussions about how this screen should look and operate, Microsoft suggested presenting browsers in alphabetical order without favoring any particular option. While regulators in Europe seemed fond of the plan, they opened the proposal for public comment -- and at least one Mozilla developer is voicing her concerns against it.

In a long blog post yesterday, Jenny Boriss, a Firefox user experience designer, said the current layout gives an unfair advantage to Apple's Safari browser over the competition because it will show up first on the list. Curiously, one of the alternatives she proposes is ordering browsers by market share but excluding Internet Explorer. This deliberate piece of doublethink would obviously give Firefox the privilege of first place instead.

In all fairness she also mentions a couple other alternatives like randomizing the lineup altogether or adjusting the random probability in the browser juggling order, so each browser gets the percentage chance of being first in accordance with its assessed usage share, and users can make a more informed decision.

It should be noted that her personal comments were not made on behalf of the Mozilla Foundation, so it's unclear if they'll submit any of this to European regulators. In the end, the average user probably won't care about how this ballot screen is presented as long as they can get online fast and without complications.

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