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Microsoft's IE 8 'most widely used browser', rules ASA

Blighty ad watchdog kicks out 'misleading' complaint

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The UK’s advertising watchdog has ruled that Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 8 browser is the most widely used web surfing tool, following an investigation of one of the company's ads.

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) probed a complaint about an internet ad in which Microsoft said that Blighty surfers could “Download the most widely used browser for free at internetexplorer8.co.uk”.

MS ran the advert from May through to July this year, when the company’s IE 8 browser held a worldwide market share of 25.9 per cent compared with Mozilla’s Firefox 3.6, which grabbed a 15.9 per cent slice, according to Net Applications.

The complainant, who backed up their argument by referring to Net Applications’ data, challenged whether Microsoft’s claim was misleading and questioned if it could be substantiated, said the ASA.

“Microsoft noted the complainant had argued that… Firefox had a greater percentage share of the market than Internet Explorer 8.

"Microsoft explained that while the Internet Explorer 8 figure quoted by the complainant referred to Internet Explorer 8's share of the market, the Mozilla Firefox figure quoted by the complainant was the mean usage share of all different versions of Firefox, taken from six share monitoring businesses,” said the ASA.

Redmond successfully argued that the complainant’s market share source reasserted that IE 8 was the most widely used browser.

As a result, the ASA said it had not upheld the complaint, and would take no further action against Microsoft.

“We considered that readers were likely to interpret the claim ‘the most widely used browser’ as being specific to Internet Explorer 8, not as referring to all versions of Internet Explorer collectively, and to infer that Internet Explorer 8 was installed on more computers worldwide than any other browser,” said the ASA in a statement.

“We considered that Microsoft had provided evidence which demonstrated that that was the case. We therefore concluded that the claim that Internet Explorer 8 was ‘the most widely used browser’ had been substantiated and was unlikely to mislead.” ®

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