Why SeaMonkey isn’t part of Microsoft’s European “Browser Choice Ballot Screen”
In December 2009, after a three year legal hassle, the EU Commission finally accepted a commitment by Microsoft to provide Internet Explorer users with a ballot screen of rival browsers.
Since March 1st, that page is being rolled out by Microsoft, presenting, in a somewhat randomized order, “the 12 leading browsers” for Windows to the lucky IE user. Let’s see how many of those you recognize: Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Opera, FlashPeak SlimBrowser, Maxthon, GreenBrowser, Flock, Avant Browser, K-Meleon, and Sleipnir. More than five, and you’re good; more than eight and you’re a true expert…
But no SeaMonkey, no Mozilla Suite, no Netscape – so, what’s the matter with that list?! Where does it come from, who decides upon a browsers’ rank?
The reason for this strange selection lies in the odd provisions Microsoft managed to get accepted by the EU Commission (emphasis by me):
(11) The Choice Screen will be populated with the 12 most widely-used web browsers that run on Windows 7 according to a ranking based on usage share in the EEA as measured semi-annually (see the methodology set out in paragraph 14). In addition, if a browser’s usage share is ranked among the top 12, but that browser is no longer actively offered by its vendor, that browser will not be included in the Choice Screen. If a browser vendor does not wish to have its browser included in the Choice Screen, that browser will not be included.
That’s strike number one – Mozilla Suite and Netscape are discontinued and lose.
(14) For each of the usage share sources listed in Annex D, web browser usage share will be determined semi-annually […], with shares for different released versions of the same vendor’s browsers added together to determine a browser’s total usage share (e.g., Firefox 2.0, 3.0, 3.5, etc. all count towards the total share for “Mozilla Firefox”). No more than one browser will be listed per vendor. Other than Internet Explorer, the Choice Screen may not contain any web browser which is based on Internet Explorer’s rendering engine and the development or distribution of which is funded in whole or in substantial part by Microsoft. The list of the web browsers to be included on the Choice Screen will be determined as follows: First, a list of all web browsers will be established that both, meet the criteria laid down in paragraph 11 and are included in at least two of the three data sources of usage share information for web browsers listed in Annex D. Secondly, the browsers on this list will be ranked according to the arithmetic means of their numerical ranks in the data sources, taking into account their best ranking in two data sources (i.e. if a browser is included in three data sources, the two data sources where it was ranked highest should be used to calculate its arithmetic mean). Thirdly, if this procedure results in a list of more than 12 browsers, only the first 12 browsers will be included in the Choice Screen. Conversely, if this procedure results in a list of less than 12 browsers the remaining slots on the Choice Screen will be left empty. […]
Oops, and that’s where we’re out now as well — the SeaMonkey project is legally backed by the Mozilla Foundation, which counts as the vendor…
It’s very obvious that the notion of independent products/projects under the hood of the same legal entity is something quite alien to Microsoft and the EUC. 🙁
Or maybe they’re frightened. 😉
Finally, let’s a look at the statistical sources mentioned above:
List of the data sources referred to in paragraph 14
ComScore is very tight-lipped about its browser stats, at least to the general public. NetApplications has the most detailed public data, even listing SeaMonkey. Guess what? No trace of the oddball ballot browser bunch. And StatCounter (in its .csv data) sums up something called “Mozilla 1.9” which is different from Firefox…
So, what do we learn from this?
It’s all about YOU, the SeaMonkey users. Enjoy! Share SeaMonkey with your friends, share SeaMonkey with your family, share SeaMonkey with your colleagues. Write your own extensions! Tell the net! Participate in QA and development and make SeaMonkey become even better!