Open to Choice Frequently Asked Questions

25th March, 2010

What was the settlement the European Commission reached with Microsoft?

In December 2009, Microsoft reached an agreement with the European Commission to resolve the European Commissions concerns that Microsoft violated EU competition law. As part of this agreement, Microsoft agreed to adopt a number of operating principles, referred to as Commitments, that implementing a ‘Browser Choice screen’ for all Windows users in Europe when Internet Explorer is sold with a computer and pre-set as the default Web browser. This screen gives users the choice of staying with their default Web browser, or choosing from a number of alternatives. In a phased roll-out starting on February 23, 2010, an estimated 190 million users in 32 European countries will be shown this screen.

What was Mozilla’s role in the European Commission settlement process?

Mozilla joined the process as an “interested party.” This means we were allowed to review and comment on proceedings between Microsoft and the EC.  We were not a complainant.   We outlined a series of principles regarding respecting user choice as critical parts of any remedy – this reflects Mozilla’s non-profit mission to bring individual empowerment into Internet life.  We also commented on the implementation of the Browser Choice screen though we did not propose this remedy.

Throughout our participation, Mozilla Chair, Mitchell Baker blogged about the process and you can read that here.

During the process, Mozilla indicated that they were more excited about other parts of the ruling than the Browser Choice screen itself. What are they?

While the ballot mechanism represented by the Browser Choice screen has received the most attention, Mozilla is most pleased with the core principles Microsoft will be adopting that protect the choices a person has already made. These principles are expressed in several components of the Commitments and together should result in a greater respect for individual human decisions.

When Mozilla joined the case as an interested third party, Mitchell Baker started a series of blog posts to develop a set of principles that Mozilla believed should be addressed by any remedies in the case. The principle discussions were not about specific remedies themselves, rather they were about the goals that we thought any remedies should meet.

Of the various principles Mozilla proposed in public discussion around the case, the ones that got the strongest positive response are those that protect the choices people have already made or are trying to make in regard to their Web browser. The issues we identified were formally incorporated into the settlement. These are 1: Respecting Previous Choice and 2: Windows Must Not Provide a Technical Advantage to IE.

How does the Browser Choice screen work?

Microsoft explains how and when the Browser Choice screen will roll out in this blog post.

What does the Browser Choice screen look like?

You can see the Browser Choice screen at this link.

What Web browsers are included on the Browser Choice screen?

These are the 12 browsers included on the Browser Choice screen.  We encourage people to read about them and talk to friends and colleagues so they can learn more about their options.

  • Apple Safari
  • Avant Browser
  • Flock
  • Google Chrome
  • GreenBrowser
  • K-Meleon
  • Maxthon
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Opera
  • Sleipnir
  • Slim Browser
  • Windows Internet Explorer

Not all Web browsers are included on the Browser Choice screen.  People might want to consider these options as well. Note, not all of them run on the Windows operating system.

  • Amaya
  • Camino
  • Epiphany
  • iCab
  • Konqueror
  • SeaMonkey
  • TheWorld

What is the goal of Mozilla’s Open to Choice campaign?

The goal of our Open to Choice campaign is to raise awareness among Web users in Europe about the importance of making informed choices about the software and services they use to access the Internet. It launches at a time when an estimated 190 million of Europeans in 32 countries will be asked to make a choice about which Web browser will act on their behalf to broker their online experiences.

As a first step, we want as many people as possible to consider the choice of Web browsers presented to them as part of the Browser Choice screen. We believe that the Browser Choice screen is an important milestone towards helping more people take control of their online lives — and we hope for the conversation to become broader and deeper. We’ve set up as one place for people to discuss what this choice means to them.

Why is choosing a Web browser an important decision?

Every day we make conscious choices about a myriad of things – some significant, some trivial. Although many people don’t consider a Web browser to be one of these choices, it’s one of the most important pieces of technology we use and definitely merits careful thought.

In fact, the Web browser has become one of the most critical and trusted relationships of our modern lives. It is the lens through which we look at the digital world, and the medium by which we connect, learn, share, and collaborate. The browser you choose is responsible for providing you with the necessary tools to manage your online life, and plays a key role in protecting your privacy and security. Making an informed choice on which browser you use is the first step towards the best possible experience on the Web.

Why is Mozilla taking on this role of informing and educating consumers?

Mozilla is a non-for-profit with a clear mission: Mozilla exists to ensure that the Internet as a global public resource remains open and accessible. Through Firefox, Mozilla demonstrated that the browser is critically important to each individual’s online experience and to the overall health of the Internet. Building a setting in which citizens understand they have a choice is a fundamental step in building an Internet that retains vibrancy, innovation and choice.

Why is Mozilla launching this campaign now?

Mozilla believes that during this unique time when millions of people across Europe are perhaps for the first time considering their choice of Web browser, it is essential to provide information about the importance of the Web browser itself, rather than looking at specific product features.

It is Mozilla’s mission to promote choice, innovation and participation on the Internet. The Internet is an integral part of modern life – a key component in education, communication, collaboration, business, entertainment and society as a whole. As such, it is a public resource that must remain open and accessible and we want to make sure this message is heard by consumers.  In doing so, we hope they recognize the Browser Choice screen when it appears and will make an informed choice.

Will the Open to Choice campaign encourage people to download Firefox when they are presented with the Browser Choice screen?

Our campaign is not about pushing downloads for our browser product – Firefox –  but about getting Internet users interested in thinking about the importance of the Web browser to their online experience.

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