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Bundled Firefox not the "right outcome"

Bundled Firefox not the "right outcome"

Firefox architect Mike Connor claims that offering multiple choices of browser at the time of OS installation is "not the right" decision.

The Mozilla Foundation's Mike Connor has declared that he doesn't feel forcing Microsoft to bundle Firefox as an alternative with Windows is “the right outcome” of an EU ruling that Microsoft has been abusing its position as a software monopoly.

Speaking in an interview with PC Pro, Connor declared that forcing Microsoft to include other browsers as a choice at installation time was “not the right outcome” of the EU's investigation into the bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows, and that there was “no good UI” that would allow such a choice without confusing users.

The case against the software giant's bundling practices was brought to the EU's attention by browser specialist Opera – but Connor believes that the whole argument is a waste of time. Attacking Opera's statements that competition is stifled by the practice of software bundling, Connor stated that “Opera [was] asserting something that's provably false,” and that he didn't know how the company could make the claim that bundling has a direct affect on market share “with a straight face.

In that, he may have a point: while Opera's share of the worldwide browser market might be stagnating at the 0.7 percent mark, Firefox's share has surpassed 20 percent and is steadily growing – despite the package not being bundled on either of the 'mainstream' retail-level operating systems, MacOS and Windows. Connor believes that the secret to market share lies not in forcing alternatives to be bundled at the OS level, but in being “perceptibly better” than the competition – thus increasing awareness of the alternatives.

When asked his opinion on why Opera has such a small chunk of the browser market, Connor claimed that the browser was “a little too heavy, it's a geeky browser. Opera's problem is that it works, but doesn't stay out of the way. There's a little too much to distract you from the content.

Despite this rather scathing review of the competition, Connor did admit that the browser has “cleaned up” its interface in recent times and had nothing but praise for its mobile incarnations, Opera Mini and Opera Mobile – despite plans for a mobile version of Firefox codenamed Fennec that would compete directly with Opera on yet another front.

Do you think that Connor is wrong when he claims that bundling doesn't lead to increased market share, or would offering multiple browsers at OS installation time just confuse users into making a bad decision? Are his comments about Opera spot-on, or gloating from a bad winner? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

35 Comments

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will. 10th February 2009, 11:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by article
There's a little too much to distract you from the content.

Spot on quote. Especially with the more recent versions. I used to think it was a great little browser.
Gremlin 10th February 2009, 11:48 Quote
i can see some of his concerns about it being a wrong move for Firefox

Currently firefox is the main competitor to IE and it keeps growing at the expense of IE because every man and his dog reccomend it to everyone including websites (saying its best to use IE or FF etc or use FF if you have issues in IE etc etc) while a small amount of people recomend changing to Opera or any other browser on the windows platform

as a result awareness of alternate browsers besides say FF and to a lesser extent Chrome (which only has such a large market share because its backed by google nd thats a house hold name) is rather small in the general populace

now if new users upon getting their new computers get a prompt with a list of several different browsers then that WILL cut into market share for IE as well as FF imo simply because the non tech crowd will pick whatever sounds best tot hem be it Opera or Safari or FF or IE, and being non tech savvy they will just stick with said browser unless something doesnt work for them since they all work fine for your general non techy person

so if this happens instead of say 5 million people installing FF on the word of a friend or website due to lack of browser awareness you will get that 5 million spred amoung browsers giving a marketshare boost to other browsers and taking away potential Firefox Users

not to mention with a boost in users for the FF competition they will have to work much harder to diferentiate themselves in the marketplace to those non tech people or lose the revenue the users may generate for them etc and that revenue gain for the other companies will give them a boost and provide even tougher competition for FF

no company wants that to happen even if they arent evil , a corporation is still a corporation at the end of the day
Bauul 10th February 2009, 11:50 Quote
At the very most, when you install a copy of Windows and log onto the Internet, there should be a box that pops up that asks you which browser you wish to use, with links to download them, but that's it. Bundling multiple competiting applications with an OS would be an awful move. We're trying to cut down on bloat ware, not increase it.
ChaosDefinesOrder 10th February 2009, 12:30 Quote
I think that the browser should be done similar to how Windows Live Messenger is done in Vista. I.E. instead of installing the program there is a link in the start menu (in the case of WLM "Windows Live Messenger Download") where instead of opening IE when you click "Internet" it instead comes up with a first-time-use list of the browsers (by all means M$ can have IE at the top of the list, that doesn't matter) with IE, FF, Opera, Chrome and Safari listed which download the required installer.

The problem with not bundling a browser at all is you can't visit the webpage to download the browser of your choice!

Also, it may just be a GUI thing, but I always get the impression that Windows Explorer is built on Internet Explorer (or vice versa, this being demonstrated when IE6 crashes in XP it takes Windows Explorer with it! IE7 solved this by separating the processes) Wouldn't this cause problems with the file browser if M$ is told not to bundle IE?
Dr. Strangelove 10th February 2009, 12:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gremlin
i can see some of his concerns about it being a wrong move for Firefox

Currently firefox is the main competitor to IE and it keeps growing at the expense of IE because every man and his dog reccomend it to everyone including websites (saying its best to use IE or FF etc or use FF if you have issues in IE etc etc) while a small amount of people recomend changing to Opera or any other browser on the windows platform

as a result awareness of alternate browsers besides say FF and to a lesser extent Chrome (which only has such a large market share because its backed by google nd thats a house hold name) is rather small in the general populace

now if new users upon getting their new computers get a prompt with a list of several different browsers then that WILL cut into market share for IE as well as FF imo simply because the non tech crowd will pick whatever sounds best tot hem be it Opera or Safari or FF or IE, and being non tech savvy they will just stick with said browser unless something doesnt work for them since they all work fine for your general non techy person

so if this happens instead of say 5 million people installing FF on the word of a friend or website due to lack of browser awareness you will get that 5 million spred amoung browsers giving a marketshare boost to other browsers and taking away potential Firefox Users

not to mention with a boost in users for the FF competition they will have to work much harder to diferentiate themselves in the marketplace to those non tech people or lose the revenue the users may generate for them etc and that revenue gain for the other companies will give them a boost and provide even tougher competition for FF

no company wants that to happen even if they arent evil , a corporation is still a corporation at the end of the day

I see your point however I think there is a small problem, should MS bundle other browsers with Windows, they will surely still have IE as the Recommended option, which again means that most non-techy users will choose it, those who are "techy" enough to know that IE is bad have probably only heard of FF, and hence will install that.
I think there will be very few non-techy users who randomly chose a different browser than the one an installation recommends. How many "normal" users use the custom/advanced install options when they install programs?
tank_rider 10th February 2009, 12:54 Quote
Not particularly interested in this article, however I am very disappointed to find that my favorite tech site is now using hover over advertising (the vibrant system that highlights the operating system text in this article). It's one of the reasons i use bit-tech as I didn't have to put up with off putting and unwanted popups. Please get rid of them, it's a truly rubbish idea.
cebla 10th February 2009, 13:04 Quote
Either they got rid of it very quickly or it doesn't work in IE, because I can't see any hover over advertising.
azrael- 10th February 2009, 13:07 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bauul
At the very most, when you install a copy of Windows and log onto the Internet, there should be a box that pops up that asks you which browser you wish to use, with links to download them, but that's it.
This statement is logically flawed in at least two ways. Firstly, what constitutes "logging onto the Internet"? Most Internet connections these days are of the "always on" type, which makes it hard to pinpoint that special moment, where you log on. Secondly, if you've pinpointed the moment you log on and that box is supposed to pop up you would need an existing browser to follow those links you've described. It's a bit of a chicken and egg problem. Don't get me wrong, I'm very much pro choice, but I'm not sure forbidding the bundling of IE with Windows is the way forward.
reflux 10th February 2009, 13:09 Quote
He's talking carp about Opera - there are too many options on the screen as default, but it's a lot more streamlined than Firefox is for most stuff.
steveo_mcg 10th February 2009, 13:10 Quote
Why not just have it as one of the configuration options as windows boots for the first time.
badders 10th February 2009, 13:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by cebla
Either they got rid of it very quickly or it doesn't work in IE, because I can't see any hover over advertising.

Good point - It's there in Firefox 3, but not IE6.

TBH, I didn't even notice it the first time I read it.
perplekks45 10th February 2009, 13:48 Quote
I have no idea what hover-over adverts you're talking about. FF 3.1 B2 on Windows 7 here and none of these little buggers shows up for me. :p

Anyways, bundling is bad as we all have seen with other tools. WinAmp, DaemonTools [for Christ's sake I don't want your crappy toolbar!], Adobe Reader [they stopped doing that by now], ...
Kode 10th February 2009, 14:00 Quote
Cebla 'mainstream' retail-level operating systems, the "operating systems" is a hover over advertisement, its under the picture for me in ie7
Sebbo 10th February 2009, 14:01 Quote
i think a major point is being missed by many people. Normal users don't ever see the installation process for Windows unless they're game enough to reformat. They just buy a computer with OEM Windows already installed, or get someone else to install it for them. Hence the entire argument of whether or not a list of browsers for installation pops up during Windows install is fairly pointless (except for the cases of people like us). Chaos's suggestion of providing a similar system to Windows Live Messenger seems to be the most sensible from a normal user's point of view, but the fact is much of the computing population couldn't give a rats arse what browser they're using, as long as they can get to google, facebook etc.

Also, slightly related note, why is this argument being limited to Windows only? OSX bundles Safari, and Safari is much more a part of OSX than IE is in Windows - to change your default browser in OSX you do it through Safari, rather than either the "Default Programs" control panel or from the desired browser itself in Windows.

RE: hover-over ads, I can't see them here under FF3 or TB2
Cupboard 10th February 2009, 14:03 Quote
http://forums.bit-tech.net/picture.php?albumid=147&pictureid=874
definitely there, definitely bad.

I don't think they could really do anything like bundling all the competitive browsers effectively, as people have said, it would just increase bloat, bad. Also, if you have a load of non-up to date browsers that you don't use, you just need an exploit that uses one of them for all kinds of problems to appear.

Opera mobile is very good btw, I thoroughly recommend it.
Kode 10th February 2009, 14:05 Quote
i just checked ff3, they are there, paragraph 4, bout half way
steveo_mcg 10th February 2009, 14:10 Quote
There is a tread discussing the intelitxt over here, come rant.
UncertainGod 10th February 2009, 14:26 Quote
I think the real solution is for M$ to change the integration methods of IE so that the render engine and associated tools is modular so if/when a person want to change the default engine (IE) they can remove it completely. Of course this would involve M$ providing full and frank disclosure of those methods and necessitate major rewrites of any browser that wanted to work like this but it would be the ideal solution.
Lazarus Dark 10th February 2009, 14:40 Quote
I don't see hover ad in FF3 and I have ABPlus turned off for Bit-tech and other sites I frequently visit. What's the big deal anyway, maybe they need the money? Times are tough for these sorts of outfits. I expect many longtime tech sites may not survive the year. I hope bit-tech does.

I don't think the whole IE thing matters. IE7 is much more secure than previous versions. I don't use it ever, only FF, even at work, but no browser will ever be totally secure. As long as they keep patching, I don't care what the non-techies use. That said, on all my families computers, I go and dl and install FF without even asking them and tell them to use it, making it the default. Then I remove all the shortcuts to IE. I tell them it's for their own good and since I'm the most tech knowledgeable in the family, they just trust me. I'm not worried about FF's market share anymore. 20% is darn good considering the hurdles it took to get there. I remember my old Packard Hell in the early 90's came with a dozen links to Compuserve, AOL, and a bunch of other dialup services, the bloatware was ridiculous. I use Nlite now to strip my Windows installs, but I would prefer the bloat of extra browsers, links, whatever not be theree in the first place.
perplekks45 10th February 2009, 15:32 Quote
http://img26.imageshack.us/img26/9007/intellitxtcu7.png

That's what I see and I'm very happy with it.
Xir 10th February 2009, 16:05 Quote
The point was not..."Bundling other browsers with windows" but delivering a windows WITHOUT an attached browser as standard when you buy a pre-installed box.

That way you'd be "free" to install any browser of your choise, and not just "take the conveniently pre-installed one"

Of course how one would obtain this browser...not beeing able to access the internet :D
Kind of like the old: setup your modem for our dialin...by download *bweeeech*
steveo_mcg 10th February 2009, 16:15 Quote
A very basic linux install comes with out a browser, you just need a very simple protocol like wget to fetch the installer of the one you pick.
AngelOfRage 10th February 2009, 18:02 Quote
I think it's a petty argument against MS. The only time I use IE is at work with web applications that don't work on anything else. The rest of the time I use Chrome and Firefox occasionally.

But that's because I am aware there are alternatives and made a choice. It's basically saying that the people who aren't interested in choosing a better browser should be given the choice whether they want it or not. Some people just don't care and as was said previously in the thread, as long as they can access Google, Facebook, Myspace, etc. then they're satisfied.

Also I may sound like a thicky here, but if all the main browsers are free to download and install, then what's the difference if MS include it. I could see the argument originally when MS started giving it away for free, but now it's pretty much accepted that a browser is a free piece of software, does market share mean anything other than boasting rights? You don't see calculator or note applications complaining that MS bundle both a calculator AND notepad with their windows software.
GoodBytes 10th February 2009, 18:03 Quote
@steveo.. hehe yea... like if everyone will do that....
steveo_mcg 10th February 2009, 18:17 Quote
A very simple front end with a list for the user to pick from then using a simple protocol to go get it. Point is you don't need a browser to install a browser there is no catch 22 etc.
perplekks45 10th February 2009, 20:02 Quote
Why not just bundle a certain version of 'every' browser? The one that's the latest at the point of time when the DVDs are pressed? Then you can install FF3, Opera 9, IE 8 or whatever you want and if you feel like a newer version, just download it.

Still I'm against that. Just keep it the way it is, IE uninstallable and everyone's happy... at least I am. :)
spectre456 10th February 2009, 23:07 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by perplekks45
Why not just bundle a certain version of 'every' browser? The one that's the latest at the point of time when the DVDs are pressed? Then you can install FF3, Opera 9, IE 8 or whatever you want and if you feel like a newer version, just download it.

Still I'm against that. Just keep it the way it is, IE uninstallable and everyone's happy... at least I am. :)

as much as i don't like IE i would not like it to be uninstalled. the main reason is that if something goes wrong with my default browser such as Firefox, at least i will have another avenue to access the internet to re-download it.

IE may not be the best browser but at least its functional
GoodBytes 10th February 2009, 23:28 Quote
If IE is removable for real, then the first malware that would exists for that OS is to remove it without the user knowing or tricking the average user to remove it. In result, people will lose access to the internet. And most people still have 1 computer at their home, so it's kinda hard to re-download IE or another web browser.
yodasarmpit 10th February 2009, 23:46 Quote
Why should MS be asked to include an option for a competitors software in their operating system?
Absolutely ridiculous if you ask me, should Vauxhall be forced to offer a non Vauxhall engine in their cars?

If the user is unhappy with IE, they have the ability to download and install the browser of their choice. Microsoft don't in any way prevent the user from doing so, therefore the EU have got this one wrong in a big way.

Ohh and I have to agree with the comments about Opera, can't stand it on a desktop but their mobile versions are outstanding.
alpaca 11th February 2009, 00:22 Quote
years ago i started using firefox because i taught it looked prettier than IE, that could count for something with the average non techie?
Xir 11th February 2009, 10:15 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by yodasarmpit

Absolutely ridiculous if you ask me, should Vauxhall be forced to offer a non Vauxhall engine in their cars?

Not the engine, no, but a good example anyway.

Ah...the browser used to be an accessorie, like a car stereo...and you used to buy your car without one, and then have of choise of car stereos in the shops.Buy the brand you like and (have it ) fitted

Nowadays, a car comes with a stereo prefitted,and shaped in a way that a different generic stereo (which may be your taste) doesn't fit. And with special connectors too, so only original stereo's fit.

The same goes for "integrating" the browser in the OS...you cannot really remove it, and it's been made a pain in the *ss to replace it entirely.
Elledan 11th February 2009, 19:16 Quote
If Fx were to replace IE as the primary browser on Windows, I'd bet that the majority of the Windows users would never even notice the difference. It has a back and forward button, an address bar (which many people never even seem to notice...) and something to bookmark pages with. Browser.

Speaking as a web developer I'd love to see IE be reduced to a <5% marketshare, so that I can finally start ignoring it. Now if MSFT actually began to care about standards and implemented CSS 2.x (late 90s) and 3.x (current)... even IE8 isn't quite there yet.
azrael- 11th February 2009, 19:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by yodasarmpit

Absolutely ridiculous if you ask me, should Vauxhall be forced to offer a non Vauxhall engine in their cars?
Yup... They should be forced to use Opel engines instead! :p
perplekks45 11th February 2009, 19:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by azrael-
Yup... They should be forced to use Opel engines instead! :p
:)
boiled_elephant 16th February 2009, 23:06 Quote
Quote:
an EU ruling that Microsoft has been abusing its position as a software monopoly.

I don't know how this could have happened and me not hear anything about it. I'm frantically reading into it :p
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