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Ballot scren headed to XP, Vista, Opera worries about IE logo recognition

Like sand through the hourglass, the browser ballot soap opera continues with a a whole new set of interesting developments.

Yesterday, ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley poked around the small print of the Microsoft proposal and noticed existing Windows XP and Vista users are slated to receive the ballot screen via Windows update. From the release:

"Microsoft will distribute a Ballot Screen software update to users within the EEA of Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows Client PC Operating Systems, by means of Windows Update as described hereafter: A software update enabling the Ballot Screen to be displayed will be made available to all current and future users of Windows XP and Windows Vista who receive updates from Windows Update."

So in addition to Windows 7E customers getting the screen, users who already own Windows will be shown the ballot at some point in the future when an Update runs.

Here's where the plot thickens. We know that the EC likes the idea of the ballot screen. We know Opera CEO Hakon Wium Lie said "We're very happy with Microsoft's proposal." That doesn't mean they're done complaining yet.

"We're not sure about the use of logos," Lie told TechFlash. He continued "The blue 'e' has become so associated with the Internet in general, due to the bundling with Windows. We think using the blue "e" might not be such a good idea."

I have some further bad news for you, Mr. Lie. Stripping the icon would only make things worse for browser choice. I'll give you two reasons:
  1. It's not just the blue e, it's the name people recognize.

  2. Microsoft's browser is the only one that uses the word "Internet" in it, and that's what laymen know they need to play Chuzzle, watch YouTube, and find free porn.
Even if the screen is changed to some text-only format with a drop-down menu, Microsoft will still have some advantage and standing out will be even harder for Opera.

Their bright red logo might be their biggest draw on the ballot. It's easily the most visible, and some people are bound to click as a result. Strip the logos out, and less knowledgeable users are left thinking "what has Opera got to do with internet?"

At that point, it becomes a battle between IE, Safari (who users may recognize from their iPhones) and Google Chrome (since people think Google is a web browser anyway). Indeed, Opera probably stands to lose the most from such a change.

Tags: antitrust, ballot-screen, browser, ec, eu, internet-explorer, opera