After the Windows 7 announcements and late night blogging I was pretty burned out so I took a day off at the end of last week. As it happened, that was when Microsoft finally came out and made a statement about the whole European mess. Based on this latest statement, a ballot screen idea is definitely on the table and, if accepted, there will be no need for an E Edition without a web browser – Europe can have the same editions as the rest of the world (almost – I imagine there will still be legal requirement for N edition as that relates to a different, and equally pointless, legal case).
Ironically, Opera, who started this whole nonsense, will probably lose out. As Microsoft’s James O’Neill tweeted back to Mary Jo Foley (whose blog post on Microsoft’s decision to offer European users a browser choice in Windows 7 covers all the details):
“@maryjofoley If a ballot screen is alphabetical with opera last (after Apple, Google, and Mozilla) you can bet they’ll go crying back.”
[jamesone on Twitter]
“@maryjofoley Also – how many browsers on the ballot ? I don’t think opera is in the top 3 by share”
[jamesone on Twitter]
James is often pretty forthright in his views – and he works for Microsoft – but he’s spot on here. For what it’s worth, I think that most users will download Microsoft Windows Internet Explorer (IE) – because it’s from Microsoft, who make the operating system they will have just purchased – or Mozilla Firefox (for those who would prefer a third-party browser). Apple Safari, Google Chrome, Opera, etc. will remain also-rans, whatever their merits (of course, Safari will continue to dominate on OS X and Chrome will be integral to Google’s new Linux distro).
Even if you do get hold of E Edition (i.e. a copy of Windows without Internet Exploder built in), there are a number of workarounds posted, like Rafael Rivera’s suggestion of exploiting Windows Media Player to download a browser. Rafael is a smart guy but there’s a much simpler way –
ftp.exe (the command line FTP client in Windows) – or, for that matter, FTP site access from Explorer. Actually, I put a port of wget onto many of my systems so that would even give me command line HTTP access to pull down a browser. The smartest idea I saw was using
mshta.exe to access a website (e.g.
mshta http://www.markwilson.co.uk/). I haven’t checked to see if that executable is still present when Internet Explorer is uninstalled (I doubt it), but it sounds like a nice command to know about anyway.
[Update: It looks like XP and Vista users will also get presented with a ballot screen - not sure how Microsoft Update will determine that we are in Europe though... IP address? Product SKU?]