Chrome market share to surge as Microsoft prompts Europeans to choose browsers

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The Independent Tech

Following the December European Commission antitrust agreement ruling that prevents Microsoft from bundling its Internet Explorer browser with its Windows software in Europe, Microsoft has announced the roll out of a "Web browser choice screen" to all Windows-based Internet Explorer (IE) users in Europe.

The move is expected to reduce Microsoft's dominant browser market share, making room for Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera browsers.

Insiders believe Google stands to gain considerable market share. The internet giant has been aggressively pushing its recently released Chrome web browser throughout Europe with a high-profile advertising campaign.

Internet Explorer's market share has been steadily tumbling from the 60 percent stronghold in August 2008. IE represents around 45.5 percent of the internet browser market in Europe according to StatCounter's February statistics.

Microsoft's web browser choice screen announcement is seen as yet another blow to the company's browser market share. In January both the German and French governments issued public statements advising against the use of all versions of Microsoft's Internet Explorer after security flaws in Microsoft's Internet Explorer were linked to malicious Chinese-based cyber attacks on Google and more than 20 other companies in December 2009.

According to the UK's Channel 4 News, up to 170 million computers in the European Union will be affected by Microsoft's web browser choice screen rollout and their users will be offered the choice of sticking to IE or replacing it with one of the rival browsers.

"The browser choice screen software update will be offered as an automatic download through Windows Update for Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7," wrote Dave Heiner, vice president and deputy general counsel, Microsoft on the Microsoft On The Issues website on February 19.

"The software update will be installed automatically, or will prompt you to download or install it, depending on which operating system you are running and your settings for Windows Update."

Internet Explorer users will see an introductory screen appear when they first launch the browser after the software update is installed on their computer. Windows 7 users will also notice that the Internet Explorer taskbar "pin" will automatically be removed from their desktop.

Users in the United Kingdom, Belgium and France will see the update as soon as next week. A wider European rollout is expected to take place during the week of March 1.

For more information about the proposed rollout visit: http://microsoftontheissues.com/cs/blogs/mscorp/archive/2010/02/19/the-browser-choice-screen-for-europe-what-to-expect-when-to-expect-it.aspx

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