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Microsoft no longer has to offer EU Windows users a choice of browsers. Meanwhile, Internet Explorer has improved and Microsoft is working on a new browser. Nevertheless, we’ll show you how to install your favorite browser without touching Internet Explorer.

In 2009, the European Commission passed a directive, which prevented Microsoft from bundling Internet Explorer with Windows. Over the years, Internet Explorer lost significant market shares.

Last month, the European Commission has decided to release Microsoft from its obligations, allowing the software giants the opportunity to focus its energies into Internet Explorer promotion however it sees fit. Has the EU directive worked, and will we see Internet Explorer return to the top of the rankings as the most popular browser used to download Google Chrome?

The Browser Ballot

The Microsoft Browser Ballot was a website offered to new Windows users advising them of 11 alternative browser choices to its eternally popular, pre-installed Internet Explorer Surprise: Internet Explorer 11 Has Matured Into A Modern Browser Surprise: Internet Explorer 11 Has Matured Into A Modern Browser Remember Internet Explorer 6? Well, Internet Explorer isn't horrible anymore. Whether you like IE or not, you can't deny that it has improved dramatically and is now worthy of taking its place alongside other modern... Read More software.

Browser Ballot

Implemented in 2009, the browser ballot was designed to reign in what was seen as a rampant browser monopoly as Microsoft forced Internet Explorer into users computers, many of whom were unaware that alternatives even existed. Despite already dwindling support for Internet Explorer, 2010 saw the launch of BrowserChoice.eu, designed to popup on systems where IE was still the default browser. The EU directive dictated that the popup should offer two tiers of alternative browser options to be displayed in a random order:

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BrowserChoice.eu Options – March 2010
  • Tier 1: Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari
  • Tier 2: Avant Browser, Flock, GreenBrowser, K-Meleon, Maxathon, Sleipnir, Slim Browser

W3Schools Browser Stats March 2010

BrowserChoice.eu Options – September 2014
  • Tier 1: Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Maxthon
  • Tier 2: K-Meleon, Lunascape, SRWare Iron, Comodo Dragon, Sleipnir

W3Schools Browser Stats November 2014

Visitors to BrowserChoice.eu are now met with the following message:

This website was created by Microsoft in accordance with a decision issued by the European Commission in December 2009. The obligations imposed by the decision have now expired and Microsoft will no longer maintain this website. Microsoft encourages customers who want more information about web browsers or want to download another browser to do so by visiting the websites of web browser vendors directly.

Logically, we will now see Internet Explorer usage rise again as Microsoft can exclusively promote its own software however it deems appropriate. Though as more and more users are now aware of the alternatives, perhaps the EU directive could be considered a success? This could also have contributed to European Union reasoning in letting the directive drop at this time.

Is IE11 Actually Worth Using?

Whilst this is a thoroughly unscientific methodology, using Google auto-complete to ascertain what potential IE users are searching for, sheds some light on the current collective mindset:

IE11

Safety has always been a concern for Internet Explorer. Having the largest market share comes with its caveats and indeed, Internet Explorer is a sustained target for many varieties of malware – though this isn’t as much as an issue in the past as Google Chrome now tops the pile and Microsoft have vastly improved IE security all-round.

But it wasn’t only security issues affecting previous iterations of Internet Explorer. IE11 arrived on our desktops in October 2013, with Microsoft claiming a 9% performance improvement over IE10. Why You Should Upgrade To Internet Explorer 11 Now Why You Should Upgrade To Internet Explorer 11 Now Restoring Internet Explorer to a browser that people actually wanted to use was always going to be a hard road, but it's just possible that with Internet Explorer 11 this stage has been reached. Read More  Graphically intensive sites are now rendered using the GPU rather than the traditional CPU, providing a further boost to browser performance.

Websites look excellent. InPrivate browsing and browser history delete Not Just for Porn: Other Uses For Private Browsing Not Just for Porn: Other Uses For Private Browsing Private-browsing mode has many other names, including "incognito mode" in Chrome and "InPrivate Browsing" in Internet Explorer. Some people refer to private-browsing mode as "porn mode", but it isn't just for porn addicts. It can... Read More are easier to access. The SmartScreen Filter checks websites against a current threat list and advises on best practices for users. IE attempts to pre-load pages it thinks you might click – though the algorithm only loads when it is certain of your choice.

In addition, side-by-side browsing, pinned live web tiles Make Internet Explorer 11 Work for You With These Tips Make Internet Explorer 11 Work for You With These Tips Internet Explorer 11 isn't terrible! In fact, if you've got a Windows tablet and have bought into the whole Metro -- sorry, "Modern" -- interface, it's probably the best touch-based browser out there. Read More and the introduction of F12 Developer Tools to aid web development, debugging and optimisation complete a browser ready to compete with its contemporaries.

modern-side-by-side-browsing.png

It is also worth considering that IE11 has been built with the touch-enabled Windows 8 hardware 5 Ways to Add Touch to a Windows 8 Computer 5 Ways to Add Touch to a Windows 8 Computer Windows 8's Start screen and "Modern" apps can feel awkward to use on a non-touch PC, but they really start to make sense when paired with a touch PC. If you're not ready to go... Read More in mind, so if you have the technology, it is worth giving it a try.

What’s In Store With IE12?

Windows Explorer Search Bars

Who knows? Probably nothing like the above though. There are currently a number of speculative strands of thought surrounding IE12, product features and an intriguing project codenamed Spartan.

Let’s look at that codename, Spartan. Mary Jo Foley over at ZDNet speculates that Spartan is not the name for IE12, but is rather the functional name for a new, lightweight browser that will arrive in a Windows 10 Technical Preview sometime next year – perhaps in the next big Windows 10 feature update on January 21st, 2015.

The Spartan browser could work in two ways:

  1. User requests old, resource heavy site, or site requiring compatability mode. Full version of IE12 loads.
  2. User requests new, low resource site. IE Spartan loads, using less overall computing power.

The name Internet Explorer is consistently associated with an inferior product. It is ingrained in our very computing psyche, since the days of IE6, 7 and 8. So it would make absolute sense that Microsoft, under the leadership of Satya Nadella, would attempt to move away from past browser foibles and focus on delivering a powerful, contemporary browser solution.Internet Explorer Logo

And a contemporary IE will potentially be very different from the IE of OS’s past. Expect IE12, in whatever format, to sit within the current Windows aesthetic – clean lines, flat design, with support for more plugins and, key to winning back Chrome and Mozilla users, support for extensions, with a shift from forcing potential web-application and extension developers from working in the C++/COM languages 3 Websites To Get Started With Learning C++ Programming Language 3 Websites To Get Started With Learning C++ Programming Language Learning to program can be difficult for many, even with relatively easy programming languages. While Java is easier to get started with (where we have numerous articles here at MakeUseOf for Java as well as... Read More favoured by Internet Explorer.

Remember that after January 12th, 2016, ‘only the most recent version of Internet Explorer available for a supported operating system will receive technical support’ – meaning that those users for some reason desperately clinging onto IE8, 9 and 10 on Windows 7 will be cut off from updates, forcing a migration to a supported version.

Avoid Using IE To Install Your Favourite Alternative Browsers

The old technology adage goes ‘Internet Explorer is the number one browser to download [insert alternative browser here].’ In years gone past, this was completely true. Chrome now outstrips IE usage and for many users booting up a fresh install, avoiding any interaction with the built-in Windows browser comes as part of the process. Luckily for those users there are a number of methods for achieving exactly this.

Friends Dont Let Friends

  1. Before a clean install download your required alternative browser directly from the developer. Load it onto a USB drive. Install as required. It is always worth keeping a backup USB drive with your favourite software on, as well as the key drivers for your system and any others you frequent. It’s a massive time-saver and saves you have to load up IE.
  2. Use a direct FTP service. If you have loaded your drivers for a fresh install and you internet adapter is working, or if you are lacking a browser option for another reason, these FTP methods can be extremely handy:
  3. Consider a completely different operating system Which Operating System Should You Choose for Your Next PC Which Operating System Should You Choose for Your Next PC Buying a new PC? You have more operating system choices than ever. Which should you choose? We'll give you an overview, along with advantages and disadvantages. Spoiler: There's no one best option! Read More .

The urge to avoid any incarnation of IE like the plague still runs deep. It doesn’t have be that way. IE is stronger, faster and more secure than ever – but still doesn’t entirely compare to its direct market competitors. This writer is prepared to be converted by IE12 when it hits our desktops – perhaps you should too.

Will you consider a newer, flashier Internet Explorer? What would make you convert? Do you think IE is held back by its troublesome past? Let us know below!

Image Credits: Windows Search via Bitcore.org, Friends Don’t Let Friends via coolestech.com

  1. Gavin
    May 1, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    I think that stands true for many individuals. For s very long time it was cool to hate IE, and for many it was part of distancing themselves from MS in general. That seems to be changing now, as people view Apple as the money grabbing, monopolistic entity MS was once.

    Thanks for reading!

  2. Jacques
    May 1, 2015 at 11:42 am

    I have always loved to hate IE, because MS forced it in your face, and then it was lame on top of it. My first love was FireFox, and that migrated to Chrome.
    I found Safari to be ok, but not compelling. Lately I like OPERA more and more, and I not am split between Opera and Chrome.

  3. Gavin
    February 20, 2015 at 9:46 am

    Do you see your stance changing if IE12 delivers a better package?

  4. Martin Baker
    February 20, 2015 at 8:33 am

    As a web developer for over 20 years, my initial offerings were all highly focussed around using IE. Indeed I was a zealot in favour of all Microsoft products. Since then IE has been trouble with persistent change, removal of features, incompatibilities between versions, a compatibility mode that is a sham because it just creates additional variants and is a total nightmare to support. You cannot mount a dependable service based on IE because you cannot trust Microsoft not to pull the plug or change something so that suddenly your solution stops working. IE alone requires more support than all the other browsers put together. So I have dropped support for IE on the websites I host and simply tell users that their browser is not suitable. I don't really care what goodies they bring out with IE 12 because Microsoft behaves just as inconsiderately with its other products, so I don't see anything long term trustable and stable coming out

    We should be developing better solutions in our websites, not allocating resources to dealing with churn from a supplier with no concept of delivered quality, customer care or compliance to international standards

  5. Gavin
    January 22, 2015 at 11:57 am

    As high as 99%…

  6. John
    January 22, 2015 at 7:20 am

    I've used IE, Chrome, Opera, Firefox (and its 64-bit variant, Pale Moon), Safari, Maxthon and have tried a whole slew of "off brand" browsers I happened to stumble across, most of which I'd never heard of before, and I've concluded from personal experience that (insert your favorite browser here)'s alleged superiority over any of the others is 99% in the mind of the user.

    You are, of course, free to disagree.

  7. Michael
    January 17, 2015 at 3:44 am

    Only reason why I open IE anymore is to test functionality for clients who use IE at a non-technical office.

    These offices are running often times older versions such as IE 9. Why? I don't know, because its what they know and many of those non-technical types out there are relunctant to embrace change as they subscribe to the idea that anything NEW must be hard to learn.

    *sigh*

    • Gavin
      January 22, 2015 at 11:59 am

      Did you see what Kogan did back when they were trying to 'eradicate' IE6? Bumped a sales tax on anyone attempting to purchase stuff using the browser.

    • aeneas
      February 2, 2015 at 4:36 am

      "I have used both older IE and chrome, the latest IE is better than past versions in my opinion. While I like chromes no nonsense look and it is easier to gain access to google it is sometimes a pain in the arse just the same. "

      Of course everybody likes Chrome, simply because it reminds them of >> The All Time Winner << The Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0, and none other.

  8. D'Adda
    January 16, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    I have used both older IE and chrome, the latest IE is better than past versions in my opinion. While I like chromes no nonsense look and it is easier to gain access to google it is sometimes a pain in the arse just the same.

  9. Friendlypest
    January 15, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    I have been using internet explorer for years. I like it and if you have the proper security to go along with internet explorer, things work great. I do not like any of the other browsers because, Firefox is no different than IE. It is slower and have worse issues that IE. Google Chrome is too big and is not any better either. It spies on you as well a stores way too much garbage to clean. I will stick with IE and go to the next browser. I like the fact that IE is less invasive than the other browsers. Thanks Microsoft.

    • dragonmouth
      January 16, 2015 at 4:05 pm

      "I like the fact that IE is less invasive than the other browsers."
      I have some very nice bridges I can sell you at an affordable price. You can collect tolls for crossing them and become a millionaire.

  10. Brian D
    January 15, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    Every time I try to open IE and type in a URL, it's a fail. I'm sorry, but I just won't wait 10 seconds for IE to finish doing it's opening thing before I type that URL. I don't have to, because there are other browser options that open and are immediately ready for user input.

    That has always been the number one thing I've felt they need to fix on every new version. Will that change in the next version? If not, I'll still avoid using it if there are alternatives.

    The same thing can be said about almost every MS built-in program vs. the alternatives. They all take way too long to come up once selected.

  11. X
    January 15, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    How much Microsoft paid you, you bastard?

    • Gavin
      January 15, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      Never, ever enough. Can you beat their offerings?

  12. A41202813GMAIL
    January 15, 2015 at 10:57 am

    Detective Del Spooner :
    - May I Ask A Joke ?

    M$ [ The Camera Rotates Around M$, Revealing It To Be A Hologram ] :
    - I Am Sorry.
    - My Responses Are Limited.
    - You Must Ask The Right Questions.

    Detective Del Spooner :
    - Is SPARTAN Allowed To Run Inside Native XP ?

    M$ :
    - *That*, Detective, Is The Right Question.
    - Program Terminated.

    • Gavin
      January 15, 2015 at 3:36 pm

      Haha, I like this one!

    • A41202813GMAIL
      January 16, 2015 at 10:17 am

      Thank You.

      Everybody Has A NanoMoment From Time To Time - Even An Old Geezer Like Me.

      XPOCALYPSE, FOREVER !

  13. ReadandShare
    January 15, 2015 at 7:03 am

    I know we are all supposed to forgive... but I find it difficult to forget this is the same corporation that ruthlessly quashed Netscape -- then sat on its hands and let the world use IE6 for five friggin' years with no improvements whatsoever!

    I am happy with Win 7. But my browser is Chrome. I've gotten very used to it -- even liking it a lot -- and see no reason to change. This day and age where every company is tracking everybody... it makes sense to use different products from different companies. Google doesn't need to know everything about me.

    • Gavin
      January 15, 2015 at 8:50 am

      >it makes sense to use different products
      >Google doesn't need to know everything

      But you use Chrome? Are you saying you might switch back for IE12?

    • dragonmouth
      January 15, 2015 at 11:11 am

      "I’ve gotten very used to it — even liking it a lot — and see no reason to change. "
      Talk about user inertia! You sound like all the IE users. They've gotten used to it and see no reason to change, either.

  14. Ziaur Rahman
    January 14, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    Firefox is the future of internet.

    • dragonmouth
      January 14, 2015 at 7:36 pm

      I don't think so. Chrome gives everybody automatic access to the Google Universe, FF does not. Everybody is eager to join the Google Hive Mind.

    • likefunbutnot
      January 14, 2015 at 10:29 pm

      @dragonmouth,

      The actions required to access Google services on Firefox are essentially identical to those required for Chrome. In my experience, very few end users, even in Google apps environments, actually take advantage of the browser integration features.

      I think it's more that Chrome had tv commercials and everyone finally got the disdainful message that IE is the bleeding rectal ulcer of internet software.

      Unfortunately, Chrome is presently the least pleasant Windows browser. It eats RAM (2 tabs, 11 processes, 2.2GB total memory utilized. Really?) and I believe the tools available for securing Chrome are insufficient compared to those available for Firefox and IE as well.

      I point people to Firefox. IE isn't awful any more but it's still in the sine ages in a lot of important ways. Firefox has issues of its own, but it's still the next option we have.

    • dragonmouth
      January 15, 2015 at 11:16 am

      @likefunbutnot:
      I was being facetious and making fun of the general lemming-like rush to join the Google Collective.

    • kittycats4netneutrality
      February 6, 2015 at 8:49 pm

      thats right! firefox for the win! also,firefox has a addon no other browser can use : adblock plus! it blocks all ads!

  15. dragonmouth
    January 14, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    "Google Chrome now tops the pile"
    And now we shall see if that old, tired, hackneyed myth that "IE is hacked the most because it has the largest market share" is true. With Chrome taking over as the most used browser, it should also take over as the most hacked browser. However, I doubt that it will. Unless IE12 is completely rewritten from the ground up to eliminate all the vulnerabilities, back doors and user tracking, Internet Explorer will remain the most vulnerable and therefore the most hacked browser on the planet, no matter what its market share is.

    • Gavin
      January 15, 2015 at 8:55 am

      I doubt they could eliminate all backdoors as people/hackers will be determined to expose the browser, just the same as IE and others. Whst I'd hope is that Microsoft learn from mistakes and actually act on vulnerability reports by white hats and perhaps move their update schedule around so any massively exposed security issues don't have to wait till update Tuesday.

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