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The Windows Browser Ballot Screen Offers Web Browser Choice to European Users

Since March, our friends across the pond in Europe get to decide which browser they want to install with their Windows OS. Today we thought we would take a look at the ballot choices, some are well known, and others you may not have heard of.

Windows users in European countries should start seeing the so called “Browser Ballot Screen” after installing the Windows Update KB976002 (link below). The browser ballot offers a dozen different browsers, including some you’ve likely never heard of.  They each have some unique features, and are all free, and here we take a quick look at each of them.

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Internet Explorer 8

Internet Explorer is the world’s most used web browser, as it’s bundled with Windows. It also includes several unique features, including Accelerators that make it easy to search or find a map of a location, and InPrivate filtering to directly control what sites can get personal information.  Additionally, it offers great integration with Windows Touch and the new taskbar in Windows 7. IE 8 runs on Windows XP and newer, and is bundled with Windows 7.

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Mozilla Firefox 3.6

Firefox is the most popular browser other than Internet Explorer.  It is the modern descendant of Netscape, and is loved by web developers for its adherence to web standards, openness, and expandability.  It offers thousands of Add-ons and themes to let you customize it to fit your preferences. The most recent version has added Personas, which are quick, lightweight themes to let you personalize the look your browser. It’s open source, and runs on all modern versions of Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

Of course thanks to Asian Angel, our resident browser expert, you can check out several articles regarding this popular IE alternative.

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Google Chrome 4

Google Chrome has gained an impressive amount of market share during its short time in the market. It offers a minimalistic interface and fast speeds with intensive web applications. The address bar is also a search bar, so you can enter a search query or web address and quickly get the information you need. With version 4 you can add a growing number of extensions, personalize it with a variety of stylish themes, and automatically translate foreign websites into your own language.

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Opera 10.50

Although Opera has been around for over a decade, relatively few users have used it. With the new 10.50 release, Opera has many unique features packed in a sleek UI. It integrates great with Aero and the Windows 7 taskbar, and lets you preview the contents of your websites in the tab bar. It also includes Opera Unite, a small personal web server to make file sharing easy, Opera Turbo to speed up your internet when the connection is slow, and Opera Link to keep all your copies of Opera in sync. It’s a popular browser on many mobile devices, and version 10.50 has a lot of enhancements.

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Apple Safari 4

Safari is the default browser in Mac OS X, and starting with version 3 it has been available for Windows as well. It’s based on Webkit, the popular new rendering engine that provides great speed and standards compatibility.  Safari 4 lets you browse your browsing history in a unique Coverflow interface, and shows your Top Sites in a fancy, 3D interface.  It’s also great for viewing mobile websites for the iPhone and other mobile devices through Developer Tools.

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Flock 2.5

Based on the popular Firefox core, Flock brings a multitude of social features to your browsing experience. You can view the latest YouTube videos, Flickr pictures, update your favorite social network, and keep up with your webmail thanks to It’s integration with a wide variety of services. You can even post to your blog through the integrated blog editor. If your time online is mostly spent in social services, this may be a browser you want to check out.

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Maxthon 2.5

Maxthon is a unique browser that builds on Internet Explorer to bring more features with IE’s rendering. Formerly known as MyIE2, Maxthon was popular for bringing tabbed browsing with IE rendering during the days of IE 6.  Today Maxthon supports a wide range of plugins and skins, so you can customize it however you want. It includes mouse gestures, a web accelerator to speed up pokey internet connections, a content blocker to remove unwanted content from sites, an online account to backup your favorites, and a nice download manager.

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Avant Browser

Another nice browser based on Internet Explorer, Avant brings a wide variety of features in a nice brushed-metal interface. It includes an integrated AutoFill for forms, mouse gestures, customizable skins, and privacy protection features. It also includes a Flash blocker that will only load flash in webpages when you select them. You can also integrate Avant with an online account to store your bookmarks, feeds, settings and passwords online.

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Sleipnir

Sleipnir is a customizable browser meant for advance users that is quite popular in Japan. It’s built on the Trident engine and virtually every aspect of is customizable unlike Internet Explorer.

2slep 

FlashPeak SlimBrowser

SlimBrowser from FlashPeak incorporates a lot of features like Popup Killer, Auto Login, site filtering and more. It’s based on Internet Explorer but offers a lot more customizable options out of the box.

1flashPeak 

K-meleon

This basic browser is light on system resources and based on the Gecko engine. It’s been in development for years on SourceForge, and if you like to tweak virtually any aspect of your browser, this might be a good choice for you.

3kmelon 

GreenBrowser

GreenBrowser is based on Internet Explorer and is available in several languages. It has a large amount of features out of the box and is light on system resources.

4green 

Conclusion

The European Union asked for more choices in the web browser they could choose from when installing Windows, and with the Browser Ballot Screen, they certainly get a variety to choose from. 

If you’ve tried out some of the lesser known browsers, or think some important ones have been left out, leave a comment and tell us about it.

Learn More About the Browser Ballot Screen and Download Alternatives to IE

Windows Update KB976002

Matthew digs up tasty bytes about Windows, Virtualization, and the cloud, and serves them up for all to enjoy!

  • Published 03/16/10

Comments (11)

  1. mrrix32

    I found out yesterday that Opera is the only main browser still supports Windows 98!
    LONG LIVE WIN 98SE!!!

  2. Justme

    mrrix32: Yeah, it supports Windows 95 too, but it has a VERY high RAM usage on 9x.

  3. Randall

    Am I the only one that thinks K-meleons’s logo looks exactly like Samus Aran’s helmet?

  4. al

    The day after my PC auto downloaded the Windows update I was presented with this BrowserChoice.exe, which prompted me to wonder what new virus is this as it hadn’t been covered in our media at that stage. I quickly figured out it was ok, but it took me a week to realise there were 8 more browser choices if I scrolled over to the right :)

  5. Alec S.

    @Randall, I wouldn’t know, I STILL haven’t played Metroid. Maybe if I could find a copy for cheap… :|

    @al, Tisk tisk, the first problem is bad PR on Microsoft’s part, and the second is bad design, again on Microsoft’s part. I wonder if these were just oversights or if they are not enthusiastic about having to include the choice. ;)

    Sleipnir?! That’s one that I had not heard of, but then again, it would not be the first time that I had not heard of some weird thing from Japan. :D

    I’ve currently got 14 browsers on my system, though I rarely use anything other than Chromium (though I have recently switched to ChromePlus out of spite for the bad attitudes of the Chromium devs). What’s really going to be hot in the browser market is the Chromium based browsers that are going to become more prevalent. I’ve already got Chromium, Chrome, ChromePlus, Iron, and Dragon.

    For those that are confused:

    Chromium is the open-source base browser that is constantly updated. (Though the devs have yet to fix several major bugs that have been around since the beginning, thus prompting others to start their own Chromium-based browsers.)

    Chrome is Google’s official release of the Chromium browser, updated occasionaly. (Aside from the updater feature which is one of the biggest hassles, Chrome assigns a unique, but anonymous, identifier to the browser /installation/.)

    ChromePlus is a Chinese project that adds features to Chromium and addresses some issues that the Chromium devs still have not; updated to the latest Chromium base now and then. (It includes various features built-in that are now available for Chromium/Chrome as extensions.)

    Iron from SRWare is a German browser based on Chromium that was designed to be super secure from the ground up. They took the Chromium base and made it so that it has no personally-identifiable information that can be unintentionally transmitted, ensured the ability thoroughly wipe out any and all privacy related data. It also includes a built-in ad-blocker and removes other Chrome annoyances like the updater and error reporting function.

    Finally, Comodo, the security company known for their firewalls and such makes available for free their Chromium-based Dragon browser, (get it, Comodo Dragon, haha). Like the others, it’s goal is to improve privacy and security over Chrome and Chromium by protecting personal information. It also strives to be more stable and reduce resource usage. (It is not based on the latest Chromium release, but is updatable.)

    Chromium/WebKit and Trident (the engine behind IE) are not the only open-source browser bases that have been built upon. There are Mozilla/Firefox based browsers available as well. On such example is the Orca browser which adds features to Firefox and and tries to slim down and shape-up to be more stable.

    Other, non-Chromium based browsers available include Amaya from the W3C (the organization that dictates web standards!) While it can be used as a general purpose browser, it is designed specifically for development and testing purposes to experiment with and test new web technologies that are not yet standards or widely implemented.

    The best thing about most of the derived browsers (ie browsers based on other browsers) is that most of them can be tested without much risk or work. Specifically, the settings, bookmarks, etc. can be simply dropped into the new browser rather than having to be imported (assuming such a function were available). So for example, if you normally use Chromium, you can try out Chrome by simply pointing it at your User Data directory or ChromePlus without having to do anything. Likewise, if you normally use IE, you can try out Maxthon without really having to do anything since it already looks for the data it uses where IE stores its data.

    Basically, there is now a new browser war—of sorts—that makes the one from the mid-90’s pale in comparison. However now instead of fighting for market share, the browsers are trying to one-up each other which makes things better overall for users and the Internet in general, but since it creates so much more choice, it also makes it more difficult for users because there is less stability in their on-line lives (it can be frustrating and time-consuming to try out new browsers every month, or having to migrate from one that has been beaten down by other, better ones).

  6. Chronnotrigg

    @Alec S. “I wonder if these were just oversights or if they are not enthusiastic about having to include the choice.”

    I’d bet that Microsoft wasn’t enthusiastic about creating this. They’re probably wondering why Mac gets to keep Safari and Linux gets to keep Firefox. At least the EU can’t complain about it; they approved it (it’s at least the second incarnation of the ballot box).

    Personal, I recommend Firefox. It’s got all the addons and built in fishing protection (and spell check). I love Ad block plus, no script, and stumble upon. None of which work right in Chrome (at least for me).

  7. mchlbk

    I’d love a Windows version of Dillo.

  8. HydroKirby

    @Chronnotrigg
    AdThwart works like I’d expect in Chrome. The functionality is embedded in Opera as well but it doesn’t come with filters like AdBlock Plus gives you the option to use.

  9. soloman498

    I use Epiphany in Ubuntu 8.04

  10. Talverion

    You didn’t have Mozilla SeaMonkey. :O

  11. alxendar 10

    i need the cod of the end conntion the world

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