back to article Mozilla: Windows 7 browser bungle cost us nine MILLION downloads

Microsoft's Internet Explorer clawed back some of its share of the desktop web-browser market in October, as it stood accused of costing rival Firefox valuable downloads by Windows users. Meanwhile, both Mozilla's Firefox and Google's Chrome have slipped in the browser rankings. Firefox-maker Mozilla blamed its dip on the …

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  1. teknopaul Silver badge

    still upbto their old tricks

    f*ck the law, bundle bad software, delay legal proceedings till its too late.

    The Microsoft business model. ®

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: still upbto their old tricks

      So Google aren't under investigation then?

      eg.

      http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-10-31/google-data-an-issue-in-antitrust-talks-consumer-group-tells-eu

      1. Velv Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: still upbto their old tricks

        @AC

        I think the point is that Microsoft created the business model.

        Google are now following it, and Apple are preparing a lawsuit that they have a patent on it. :)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        @AC 12:48

        logic fail:

        company A implements business model X and company B implements business model X therefore X is not A's business model

        imbecile

    2. RICHTO Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: still upbto their old tricks

      But the 'bad software' was better than the competition. IE9 was faster than Chrome and firefox on release - and has had far fewer security vulnerabilities than either of them.

      And now IE10 is also faster than the lastest Chrome and Firefox: http://www.neowin.net/news/ie10-is-8-faster-than-chrome-20-says-strangeloop

      1. A J Stiles
        Facepalm

        It wasn't better.

        It had a deliberate bug in the String.split() method of its JavaScript interpreter, as follows.

        var a1 = "10 Acacia Avenue:Anytown:Countyshire:AB123CD"; // the sort of thing that might be returned from an AJAX postcode lookup script

        var a2 = "123 High Street:Bigcity::EF45GH"; // big cities don't need their counties mentioned

        var b1 = a1.split(/:/);

        var b2 = a2.split(/:/);

        With all browsers, we get b1 == ["10 Acacia Avenue","Anytown","Countyshire","AB123CD"] as would be expected.

        With Webkit-based browsers (Chrome / Konqueror / Safari), Mozilla-based browsers and Opera, we get b2 == ["123 High Street","Bigcity","","EF45GH"] as would be expected.

        With IE, we get b2 == ["123 High Street","Bigcity","EF45GH"] -- the empty element has been silently removed from the array; placing the postcode where the county should be, and leaving the element which should contain the postcode undefined (which sometimes causes an exception when trying to read its value).

        There is no way in hell that that behaviour is remotely proper -- and neither is there any way this was accidental.

      2. Criminny Rickets
        Unhappy

        Re: still upbto their old tricks

        Being a Firefix fanboi (been using it for years) I was going to make a scathing remark to your post. Then I got to thinking just how bloated Firefox has been getting in the past year or so with each new release and realized you may be right.

        I'm running Linux now, so the Firefox version isn't as bloated, but it's still better than being spied on when using Chrome.

        1. asdf Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: still upbto their old tricks

          >still better than being spied on when using Chrome.

          Wow Linux is coming along nicely if it now has users that are such non geeks they have never heard of Chromium or SWIron which use chrome's code base without the google spyware.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Criminny Rickets
            Linux

            Re: still upbto their old tricks

            You missed the part where I said I was a Firefox fanboi. I was using Firefox in Windows, so when I recently switched to Linux, I had no reason to research other browsers as it also had Firefox.

            You're right, I have never heard or SWIron, however, I have heard of Chromium, though have not looked into it enough to know it did not have the Google spyware. I just assumed (yes I know what that means) that it was Google Chrome for Linux so still would have the spyware.

  2. Tom 13

    While I think that to some extent users are suffering from download fatigue in

    Round 2 of the 100 Years Browsers War, I can't help but think: If a cop gave me a ticket for going 65 in a 45 zone, I couldn't get out of paying it because of "technical errors." And if I were silly enough to try that angle in front of a judge, I'd probably wind up with a doubled fine.

    1. NightFox

      Re: While I think that to some extent users are suffering from download fatigue in

      If this browser choice thing in Windows was so critical to the likes of Mozilla, how come it wasn't just MS that 'failed no notice' that it had disappeared, why did no-one from Google or Mozilla appear to notice either?

      1. dogged
        Unhappy

        Re: While I think that to some extent users are suffering from download fatigue in

        To be fair (and I speak as a long-term Firefox user) FF has been getting worse for a couple of years now.

        That will also be "costing" them downloads.

        1. EddieD

          Re: While I think that to some extent users are suffering from download fatigue in

          You took the words out of my mouth - I'm a long term FF user, but recently, it's become so slow and cumbersome - without any extensions/plugins - I'm looking at Opera or IE instead. Add in ABP, noscript and I'm looking at making a cuppa waiting for it to start.

          1. VaalDonkie

            Re: While I think that to some extent users are suffering from download fatigue in

            I use Firefox for the range of developer-focused add-ons, but if I have to suggest one to a loved one, it'd be Opera.

        2. John 104

          Re: While I think that to some extent users are suffering from download fatigue in

          @ dogged

          Agreed. I use all 3 of the biggies at work for various tools. Every time I use FF, I am reminded of logging in to AOL back in the day.... "please wait while [AOL] Firefox is updated”

    2. John 104

      Re: While I think that to some extent users are suffering from download fatigue in

      @Tom 13

      Actually, in the states, you CAN get off of a speeding ticket for a technical error. If the citing officer does not follow the correct procedure, and it can be proven (usually by a lawyer), then the ticket is dismissed. You obviously have to pay the lawyer, but at least the state doesn't get to ding your record.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: While I think that to some extent users are suffering from download fatigue in

        "If the citing officer does not follow the correct procedure,"

        BUT: That's the COP making the mistake. If YOU make the mistake - e.g. your speedometer is in error, or you didn't see the sign, etc. - TOUGH NUGGIES, court clerk's on the left as you go out, cash, check, or credit card please.

        This wasn't the court's fault, it was Microsoft's.

      2. Stoneshop Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: While I think that to some extent users are suffering from download fatigue in

        @John 104

        that's when the issuing side makes some misteak. If you (as the receiver of the ticket) commit an error by, say, transposing two digits in the fine payment reference number, I doubt that you'll have even a small chance of convincing the judge to let you off on this 'technical' error.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Strange way of doing things

    A rum business that relies upon the EU to do your advertising for you.

  4. St3n

    I miss the days when Firefox was a good quality, lightweight browser. Gave up on it when it became that buggy bloat-fest we know it as today.

    1. The lone lurker
      WTF?

      Agreed!

      I have one window open with six tabs... Firefox process currently reports 335,236K memory useage... what the hell does it do with it all?

      1. toadwarrior

        Re: Agreed!

        And how much memory do you think it should use? It depends entirely on the pages you have open and your plugins. I'm on the latest version and it doesn't use near that for 6 or 8 tabs.

        Chrome actually uses more cpu and usually similar memory. They've just designed the gui in such a way that it feels more responsive. That and they use show that lame error page more often than trying to load a page. But afaik it still has a bug that let's render way too many elements when running across broken html so it performs far worse on some pages.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Agreed!

        "what the hell does it do with it all?"

        about:memory in the Firefox URL bar.

        1. Vic

          Re: Agreed!

          > about:memory in the Firefox URL bar.

          "A script on this page may be busy, or it may have stopped responding. You can stop the script now, or you can continue to see if the script will complete."

          :-(

          Vic.

    2. Daemon Byte

      Have to agree. This is just FF trying to blame MS for their failings. Chrome has managed to catch up to them in a short time where as they seem to reckon they can only get people with the EU screen. I gave up on FF years ago and moved to Opera but now FF is my 4th browser of choice after Chrome and IE9

      1. Nuke

        @ Daemon Byte

        Wrote :- "This is just FF trying to blame MS for their failings."

        No, it is about MS failing to keep a promise they made to the EU.

        1. John 104

          Re: @ Daemon Byte

          @ Nuke

          You must realize, however, that it was Microsoft who reported the omission, not the EU. MS came clean on their own and fixed the issue. If they had kept mum, I wonder if anyone would have even noticed...

          1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

            Re: @ Daemon Byte

            "If they had kept mum, I wonder if anyone would have even noticed..."

            More perversely, since Mozilla's share of the market only dropped in October, despite the ballot being missing for ages, can we conclude that it was Microsoft's admission of guilt that caused the drop in FF's market share?

            Next month, perhaps MS can admit that Win8 is crap, thereby crippling Apple's share of the tablet market.

          2. RICHTO Silver badge
            Mushroom

            Re: @ Daemon Byte

            I and many others noticed when they fixed it.

            Suddenly every PC loaded that irritating browser choice screen...

      2. Velv Silver badge
        FAIL

        @ Daemon Byte

        Why has Chrome caught up? Well one reason is that google is the most used search engine in the world to such an extent that to "google" something is now a dictionary term. And what's advertised on the front page of google? Google Chrome Browser.

        Now, looking at Firefox search....

    3. Amorous Cowherder

      Have to agree, I was a big pusher of FF and FF was superb around 18 months ago but it's slowly getting worse, Chrome beat it to death and unless they slim it down and stop using all my damn memory.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      SeaMonkey

      I've been getting fed up with FF quite some time ago but didn't really want to miss out on some of my plugins. So I eventually moved onto SeaMonkey. Its the Mozilla engine we initially came to love & respect but without all the bloat. In fact; by default it looks like your standard Netscape browser, which quite frankly suits me just fine.

      I don't care that much for the interface (of course it has to be usable) but more so for my "browsing experience". Well SeaMonkey has what it takes IMO. Since a few updates ago its even fully Aero compliant (so you see download progress in the program icon).

      I never looked back.

    5. toadwarrior

      You're living in fantasy land. Firefox was never lightweight in the past. It was plagued with memory leaks for the longest time. It's certainly better than it's ever been which is why I'm using it.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Firefox is a yo-yo dieting emotional bitch. It gets fat, it slims down, it bitches a lot and tends to make you wish you could just go with the cute girl next door.

  5. Barry Tabrah

    Translation

    "...After the browser ballot screen was reinstated in Windows, downloads shot up by 150 per cent to approximately 50,000."

    There are approximately 30,000 people every day that will click on something they know nothing about because it popped up on their computer screen.

    1. Captain Save-a-ho
      Coat

      Re: Translation

      ** Top secret ** - Mozilla Business Plan

      Phase 1 - Dupe idiots into clicking on button

      Phase 2 - ???

      Phase 3 - Profit!

  6. Bill Gould
    FAIL

    Firesucks

    I'm pretty sure it was more that Firefox became a fat, bloated piece of shitware that caused the problem.

  7. magickmark
    Alert

    Whilst I agree that MS deserve a slap on the wrist for this the thing I find interesting is that the likes of Apple still get away with having a very closed shop mentality when it comes to products that can only use apps (officially) via its App Store and that if you try to submit a product that replicatates a core function they can reject your App. Or even worse, if your App has already been accepted and if what it does becomes a core function, that your App can then be removed from the App Store without warning. And as newer Apple products are disposing optical drives now it makes me wonder how long it will be before it becomes a problem on their desktop systems as well?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You can call it different things...

      Mainly I'd say either "playing by the rules" or "gaming the system". The restriction against Microsoft was their consequence for breaking said rules... for better or worse, there is no requirement for anyone else to provide a browser choice dialogue.

      I don't like Apple's behavior in this regard either, but they don't even seem to be on the radar of the EU regulators where the competition laws are quite broadly defined... much less in the US.

    2. g dot assasin
      Thumb Up

      This is exactly what I was going to say...

      Surely it can't be denied that the iPad now has a monopoly on tablets, why are they not forced to show a browser choice pop up the same as MS are?!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Gaming the system / Playing by the rules

        Ignoring the other differences, let's assume for a moment that it is an 1:1 comparison from an OS/Browser/technology standpoint... the legal distinction is this:

        iOS came with their model out of the gate when it had, essentially, zero market share - they established their tablet monopoly with this constraint in place... Microsoft attempted to implement this model *after* they had an established desktop monopoly to the detriment of competition in the market (i.e. Netscape).

        I'm not saying it's right or wrong, but that is the way the law works in this situation - in the states in the form of "misuse of monopoly power" and in the EU under the much looser guidelines of "anti-competitive behavior".

        There is no legal requirement that "[an OS must allow a variety of browsers to run on it]", else ChromeOS would be illegal. The reason Microsoft has this requirement is that it established its desktop OS monopoly without the browser built in, and used its desktop OS monopoly power to establish a monopoly in the browser space.

        A little f'd up maybe, but dems da rules.

  8. janimal
    FAIL

    Upgrade cycle

    I blame Mozilla's ridiculous 6 week update cycle. I do not want my gui & functionality changing every 6 weeks especially on the sly. The ESR version is better if you can find it.

    But even then, as others have stated FF is getting slow & bloated and has been a memory hog for ages.

  9. Robert E A Harvey
    Unhappy

    New world

    I notice that you can only have IE on the surface RT.

    I suspect the EU are powerless to do anything about that!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: New world

      IIRC the requirement was specific to x86.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Err?

    If it was so important to their business strategy, why didn't they have anyone looking to make sure that the browser choice was being offered?

    It sounds like a case of "our browser can't be loosing popularity in any way, what could have caused the problem" rather than anything else.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    umm?

    "Both Firefox and rival Mozilla dropped in the rankings."

    This is either really badly-phrased or confused :)

    1. Alex-L
      FAIL

      Re: umm?

      I was going to comment on that but whenever I question anything editorial it gets deleted :O

  12. Antoinette Lacroix
    Joke

    I wonder

    How long is it going to take until someone sues them for bundling minesweeper ? It hurts open source game developers, you know ? Why not a "choice of OS ballot" as well ? Wouldn't it be fun to see a "Are you sure you want to install Windows" screen, along with a choice of other operating systems ?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Criminny Rickets

      Re: I wonder

      With a choice of OS, it would still favour Windows;

      Choice A - Windows 8 or Windows 7 (pick one)

      Choice B - Mac (Sorry, Apple has deemed you are not running Apple hardware so this choice is unavaiable)

      Choice C - Linux (Pick a distro - 1 2 3 4 . . . . . . . 98 99 100) (Note you are responsilble for picking one suited to a beginner)

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    nothing to do with some rather major vulnerabilities this year then?

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Nope, and certainly nothing to do with the release that was so awful they actually back-tracked the very next day and suggested that their users should ditch it, too. Apparently quite a few did, but did not simply roll back to the previous FF version.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    nothing to do with firefox being a bloated memory hog that eats cycles for breakfast ram for lunch and memory for dinner?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      but memory IS ram!!!!

  15. Sandpit

    These figures look like the sort of junk the media industry use to justify stupid levels of damages caused by file sharers. Insane creative accounting

  16. Neil Alexander
    FAIL

    Maybe I'm cynical, but...

    ... all this Browser Choice stuff is bullshit.

    You choose to buy a Mac and you get OS X with Safari preinstalled, there's no Browser Choice screen and nobody cares. If you choose to buy a Windows PC, then you should expect that your default browser will be a Microsoft one because you bought into Microsoft when you chose the Windows PC. It should be your responsibility to seek out a different browser if you want one - it should not be Microsoft's responsibility.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Holmes

      Re: Maybe I'm cynical, but...

      If there wasn’t a default Microsoft browser within the Windows OS, Mr Average, would struggle to get to the internet and download an alternative browser.

    2. M Gale

      Re: Maybe I'm cynical, but...

      You do remember when IE had 90-odd percent share of browsers due to the tactic, and Microsoft started trying to use that to pwn Web standards?

      Yeah. Browser ballot screen is not bullshit, even if you don't understand the need for it.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Maybe I'm cynical, but...

      Apple is not a monopoly (legal term too big for your pea brain) trying to co-opt the internet - "browser as an application deployment vehicle" and so on and so forth by "bundling" (legal term too big ...)

      When Apple have monopoly power, it may be relevant. Until them, pull you puny head in, should be easy enough because it must be minuscule!

      1. Neil Alexander
        Gimp

        Re: Maybe I'm cynical, but...

        @Anonymous Coward "Apple is not a monopoly..."

        The term "monopoly" would imply that Microsoft are the only people to provide a browser for Windows. You and I both know that this is not the case, and on a similar front, Microsoft have never actually stopped you from downloading and using an alternative either. It's no easier to download a different browser now than it was back in the Netscape era; the only thing that has changed is public perception of the issue. So please, step down from your high horse and take your pathetic insults elsewhere.

  17. Michael Habel Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Call me stupid

    But, if your smart enough to actually get on the Web, then you're also smart enough to take the time to learn about the Alternative Browsers, Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari (for Windows). I for One can not recall ever having been ever greeted by a Browser Choice Screen ever.

    Order of the Day in a fresh install is to get the Network up. Hop onto the Net, d/l Firefox install that, and get the rest of the latest Drivers. (e.g. nVidia, Realtek and Printer). The only time I have to fire up IE is on your second given Tuesday of any given Month to update the latest fixes to Microsofts Inection Exploiter.

    So a better question to ask might be, why are we still forced to use IE to update our Machines?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not trying to call you stupid but...

      "why are we still forced to use IE to update our Machines?"

      Are you still on XP? In 7 it's under the control panel.

  18. VaalDonkie

    Yes, because we couldn't easily choose a different browser on Vista, XP, 2000, ME, etc. Also, Opera is better than both Firefox and Chrome.

  19. Concrete Cowboy
    Flame

    Firefox updates

    Yes, FF has lost marketshare, due in large part to its becoming slow and bloated. One of my primary reasons for using it was for its customizability through add-ons. What bugs me is that the ( ridiculously numbered ) updates have a tendency to break those add-ons, themes etc.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Odd how NOBODY noticed for over a year.

    1. Philip Lewis
      FAIL

      I noticed

      "Odd how NOBODY noticed for over a year."

      But to whom does one complain?

  21. Citizen Kaned

    nothing to do with the fact lots of people moved to chrome when firefox started feeling like you were using dialup?

    they also need to acknowledge they shot themselves in the foot with a poor product. ive not used it for a couple of years now.

  22. The_Regulator

    I was using firefox for a long time and then started running into compatability and stability issues in more recent versions (end of 2011 beginning of 2012) so I switched to Chrome which has been pretty good for me although not a google fan from the privacy side of things I prefer it over firefox at this point.

  23. CheesyTheClown
    FAIL

    So without free advertising, FireFox can't get downloads?

    Funny. It seems crappy to me that Microsoft has to give away free advertising.

    What about Apple? Last I checked, not only do you have to search for web browsers yourself, but hen you do, Apple posts warning about them being dangerous.

    1. M Gale

      Re: So without free advertising, FireFox can't get downloads?

      Fortunately you can completely avoid Apple products and continue to use your computer, the Internet and smartphones in general quite nicely. Android has somewhat seen to that.

      Now try doing anything on a PC without Windows. Ever noticed how so many computer-related learning courses are not so much "how to use computers" as "how to use Microsoft software"?

      As I have already said here, does nobody remember what happened when Microsoft had a near-100% monopoly on web browsers? That's why they have been legally forced to provide the choice. Apple didn't try to own the entire Internet, even if they do sorely want to be Microsoft.

      If the iThings ever got as widespread as IE did, and if Apple ever used that to try and dictate how the Internet works, then you watch the court orders come thick and fast. A little like the slap they just got for that non-apology.

      1. Nuke
        Thumb Up

        AM Gale - Re: So without free advertising, FireFox can't get downloads?

        M Gale wrote :- " does nobody remember what happened when Microsoft had a near-100% monopoly on web browsers? That's why they have been legally forced to provide the choice."

        I certainly remember, and I think that those attacking the browser choice here from some sort of self-imagined moralistic high horse are perhaps new[er]bies who never saw how MS's abuse of that monopoly worked in practice.

        MS deliberately kept moving the HTML goal posts for no other reason than to shake off rival browsers and OS's (but claiming "richer browsing experience"). IE was the only browser which worked properly with many sites built with MS's own authoring software (Front Page I think it was). Other browsers would appear "broken" when in fact it was the website which had tripwires put in it by MS software.

        For example when my bank website was given a makeover, no doubt with Front Page, it stopped working in Galeon (my browser at the time). The bank told me to use IE to "solve" the problem. I refuse to use IE so I started using another bank instead.

        Now that people use a greater spread of browsers (and I don't care if Joe Sixpack picks one at random - all the better spread) web site designers must make sure that they do not only work in IE - or go out of business.

        Some people here ask sarcastically "Why just a choice screen for IE, why not Notepad and Minesweeper too?". Well, Notepad or Minesweeper are never going to cause anything like forcing someone to close a bank account or give up trying to use a shopping site, whatever MS do with them.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: AM Gale - So without free advertising, FireFox can't get downloads?

          "For example when my bank website was given a makeover, no doubt with Front Page, it stopped working in Galeon (my browser at the time). The bank told me to use IE to "solve" the problem. I refuse to use IE so I started using another bank instead."

          A web site that only worked in IE? Not really the fault of IE or Microsoft though, but rather the plebs who authored it.

          "web site designers must make sure that they do not only work in IE - or go out of business."

          And so they should! That's how it's been in, quite literally, all the places I have worked since the days of IE3. Back in the day, there was never any excuse for a public IE only site. And yeah, FrontPage sucked big sweaty gonads.

          "Well, Notepad or Minesweeper are never going to cause anything like forcing someone to close a bank account or give up trying to use a shopping site, whatever MS do with them."

          IE/MS never forced you to either. The forcing was done by the fuckwits who developed such site(s). When it was pretty much just Netscape and IE doing the free browsers, it was always possible to develop a fully functional site for both. Show me a developer who back then said not and I'll show you someone who was a lazy, incompetent fuckwit.

        2. Neil Alexander
          Thumb Down

          Re: AM Gale - So without free advertising, FireFox can't get downloads?

          @M Gale "MS deliberately kept moving the HTML goal posts for no other reason than to shake off rival browsers and OS's (but claiming "richer browsing experience"). IE was the only browser which worked properly with many sites built with MS's own authoring software (Front Page I think it was)."

          This is a weak argument though because the web is not, and never will be, fully standardised. The decentralised nature of the Internet simply doesn't permit it. Incidentally, FrontPage didn't need to guarantee cross-browser interoperability in the same way that Microsoft Word doesn't need to guarantee complete formatting consistency with OpenOffice. The people who chose to use FrontPage made a choice; they chose Microsoft.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Firefox memory usage

    I have a bad habit of keeping far too many tabs open. FF did improve it's memory usage problem a year or two ago, but it has regressed again, and I can tell by how many open tabs will cause one of my computers to grind to a halt and then crash FF. It now takes only one to two thirds as many.

    I keep using FF because of the package of add-ons I use, especially Tab Mix Plus, which allows me to control completely how and where tabs open and close. Even if another browser were better by now, I stick with FF because I don't want to spend hours learning another browser and possibly finding out in the end that I can't make it behave the way I want.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Browser stuff

    I would just like to say I used Firefox for years but IE now seems much faster and I use that. I dont think the flash page makes any difference.

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