Maxthon's appeals for higher ranking fall on deaf ears

The European Commission and Microsoft shrug off calls by Maxthon to change the EU browser choice page

The European Commission and Microsoft have shrugged off claims by Maxthon International that its browser should be more prominently represented on Windows' browser choice screen.

Maxthon said this week that its browser has gained a greater market share than Apple's Safari for Windows, but that it is still not listed in the top browsers on the choice screen. Jeff Chen, CEO of Maxthon called on the Commission to "fix this error."

The so-called "browser ballot page" was introduced by Microsoft following an antitrust investigation by the European Commission into how Internet Explorer was linked to the Windows OS.

"The choice screen distributed by Microsoft in line with the Commission decision of 16 December 2009 has increased consumer awareness that they have a choice between several browsers, and created the conditions for consumers to make an informed choice," explained Commission spokesperson Amelia Torres. "More than 40 million web browsers were downloaded through the choice screen. It can therefore be considered successful."

The screen displays the icons and basic information on the 12 most widely used web browsers according to data from three independent sources (ComScore, NetApplications, StatCounter). However Maxthon argues that these sources do not distinguish between Safari users on Apple OSes and those on Windows systems. It claims that based on Windows alone, Maxthon outranks Safari and should therefore appear near the top of the list of choices on www.browserchoice.eu.

Responding to the complaint, Microsoft referred to the "Commitments" document in compliance with the European Commission's orders: "The Choice Screen will prominently display the Final Releases of the five highest ranked web browsers based on usage. These five web browsers will be displayed in random order each time the Choice Screen is presented. The remaining seven browsers will be displayed if the user scrolls sideways and will also be displayed in random order.

"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."

Microsoft refused to comment further, but sources indicated that it has complied fully with the Commission's orders and any complaints should be taken up with the Commission.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

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