When Browser Choice might not be helpful

16th March, 2010

As the European Commission made clear the browser choice screen is intended to promote choice with consumers, and that this will stimulate both the browser market itself and adjacent markets dependent on web technologies.  And so, the browser choice screen is being delivered to Windows XP, Vista and 7 users who have Internet Explorer as their default browser.  But of course, a large number of people who use Internet Explorer do so at work, on a machine that belongs to their employer and the administration of which is someone else’s responsibility.

That means that the browser choice screen is being offered to people who are not necessarily empowered to make the choice of what software is, and is not installed on their machine.  And while it might seem nice to imagine a world where users could always choose the software they want to work with, an employer has requirements too: about which software they intend to support internally, which is compatible with their infrastructure, and so forth.  On top of that, it seems for many users, it is not immediately obvious what the browser choice screen is – it is unexpected (as we know, the majority of people are unaware what it is) and it might appear to some as though it is spam of some description.

In combination, this has meant some rather busy mornings for many of Europe’s system administrators.  If their users have systems which are accepting Windows updates, it seems they have been receiving lots of confused emails and telephone calls.

One such administrator by the nickname of “Pony” complained on Opentochoice of having 30 such complaints from users in one morning.  It seems that it is possible for sys admins to prevent the browser choice screen on all their users’ machines.  If they are using System Centre Configuration Manager (SCCM), they need to disable update KB976002.  And of course, we’d love it if while doing so, they could explain to all of their users who use Internet Explorer at home what the browser choice screen is!

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