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Browser Ballot update: Opera downloads triple, crusty web geek finds reason to bitch

It appears as though the Browser Ballot screen Microsoft recently pushed to EU residents via Windows update is having the desired effect -- at least if you're not Microsoft.

Opera, who recently shined up version 10.50 of their browser, has seen downloads triple since the screen went live. In a post on ComputerWorld, Opera's Rolf Assev said that downloads have exceeded their expectations for a 'normal launch.' So surely if Opera has seen an increase that means the screen works and people are making their own choices, right?

Not so fast, says UK web designer Richard Quick! Did I say choice? Clearly, I'm insane (even though 12 different browsers are shown), because according to Quick there's very little actual choice involved with the ballot screen.

"Look at the rendering engines!" Quick said to the BBC, "That's what matters!"

Sorry. No, it doesn't matter in this case. While several of the browsers presented share rendering engines, they're quite different when you look at the whole program -- which is what people are choosing. Are Chrome and Safari (which share Webkit) the same? Firefox and KMeleon (Gecko)? Internet Explorer and Maxthon? That looks like three nos to me.

But wait! There are a bunch presented which use IE's Trident engine, and Microsoft isn't allowed to do that!
Microsoft is also not allowed to feature any browser "which is based on Internet Explorer's rendering engine and the development or distribution of which is funded in whole or in substantial part by Microsoft."
Oh, crap, there's an AND in there: "and the development or distribution of which is funded in whole or in substantial part by Microsoft." To my knowledge, Microsoft doesn't fund the guys at Maxthon or Sleipnir -- please correct me if I'm wrong.

The screen is working. Let it do its thing, and let the consumers who care about choice make their choices. Let's not force-feed people third-rate HTML renderers under the guise of "fairness."

Tags: ballot, browser, choice, chrome, competition, eu, firefox, google, ie, opera, safari