Talking tech since 2003

As a result of an anti-trust agreement made with the European Commission earlier this year, Microsoft Corporation began rolling out the “browser ballot” program in Europe early this month.  The “browser ballot” system is an internet browser choice program designed to give Windows users the option to easily select a new default web browser; be it Microsoft’s Internet Explorer or not.  The purpose of this settlement with the EU was to allow users to have more of a say as to what they wanted to use as a web browser.  This follows the 2004 ruling (and the overturn of appeals in 2004 and 2005), in which the European Union ordered Microsoft to release a version of Windows, dubbed “Version N” that did not contain Windows Media Player, stating that Microsoft’s bundling of Windows Media Player was a “monopoly” onto the operating system and media player market.

On the first of this month, the rollout began.  While companies such as Apple, Mozilla, and Google are not speculating on any increased product downloads, Opera Software is claiming that the “browser ballot” program has tripled the number of product downloads in some European countries.  This comes from a statement by Rolf Assev, the Chief Strategy Officer at Opera, who states that major countries such as Belgium, France, Spain, Poland, and the United Kingdom are seeing dramatic spikes in the number of software downloads.

This is a significant increase for Opera, which currently has just over two percent of the global browser market share, and comes at the same time as Opera releases version 10.5 of their web browser.  It is uncertain whether the downloaders will continue to use Opera as their primary web browser, and if the spike in downloads will be accurately reflected in later market share statistics.

All in all, this is of great importance, because it shows that Opera has the potential to become a larger player in the web-browser market, and that more and more people are beginning to use it.  Lastly, having used Opera in the pre-10 versions, I know that there were numerous websites that were not fully compatible with Opera at the time (although I believe that at the time Opera was at fault because it was not as standardized as it is today).  With this recent surge of users, it will certainly be interesting to see if more web designers and developers put more time and effort into assuring Opera compatibility.

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