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Mozilla: Windows 7 browser bungle cost us nine MILLION downloads

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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 missing browser selection screen in Windows 7, an oversight it reckons has cost it millions of Firefox downloads.

Microsoft's web browser finished the month sitting on 54.13 per cent of the world's desktop computers, according to Net Applications. It's the first time Explorer has been in the 54-per-cent range since June. IE scored 53.63 per cent in September.

IE 9 is reported to have a share of 20.11 per cent. Mozilla's Firefox and Google's Chrome, meanwhile, both slipped: Firefox dipped beneath 20 per cent for the first time in years, with 19.99 per cent, down from 20.08 per cent in September. Chrome scored 18.55 per cent, down from 18.86 per cent in the previous month.

Moz claims Microsoft’s failure to include an EU-mandated selection screen in Windows 7 that allows users to install third-party web-browsers has cost Mozilla between six and nine million Firefox downloads. Mozilla’s Harvey Anderson said that daily downloads of Firefox dropped by 63 per cent to a low of 20,000 over a 15-month period. After the browser ballot screen was reinstated in Windows, downloads shot up by 150 per cent to approximately 50,000.

Microsoft was ordered by the European Union to offer users a choice of browsers in Windows 7 under the terms of a 2009 antitrust case. The selection screen touts IE alongside Firefox, Chrome and Opera, but it emerged Microsoft had not actually offered the screen since the rollout of the Windows 7 Service Pack 1 in February 2011. The software giant blamed the omission on a “technical error” and apologised in July this year, but 28 million PCs had missed the browser ballot screen.

Microsoft developed a software fix on July 2, a day after discovering the omission, and began distributing the fix to PCs running the Windows 7 SP1 a day later.

Regulators last month sent Microsoft a formal list of objections and said the company had breached its commitment to offer users a choice of browsers.

Writing on his website, Anderson said: “After accounting for the aggregate impact on all the browser vendors, it seems like this technical glitch decreased downloads and diminished the effectiveness of the remedy ordered in 2009.” ®

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