Microsoft Browser Choice screen rant

I know this is old news, but it still annoys me. Just for those who have not heard, this useful summary of the legal background to Browser Choice (rather than the technical details) describes the decision:

In December, the European Commission and Microsoft arrived at a resolution of a number of long-standing competition law issues. Microsoft made a legally binding commitment that PC manufacturers and users will continue to be able to install any browser on Windows, to make any browser the default browser, and to turn access to Internet Explorer on or off. In addition, Microsoft agreed to use Windows Update to provide a browser choice screen to Windows users in Europe who are running Internet Explorer as their default browser.

So, when I install shiny new Windows 7 machines for my clients with a perfectly serviceable browser (IE8) with some great security features such as protected mode, I make sure the Windows Update has brought everything up to date and BAM! An icon appears on their desktop and prompts them to choose what browser they want.

So I choose IE, delete the icon and everyone is happy.

This is a complete waste of everyone’s time and money. The users who want an alternative still go and download the browser of their choice. Most don’t bother. Making a bad choice from the popup screen and deciding a while later you want to switch, or revert to IE is just a waste of people’s time, and in business this time will cost money. Across Europe this hidden cost will be huge.

Read more of my rant about the Browser Choice screen»

Why I’m using Foxit reader for Acrobat PDF files

For a while I had been reading good things about Foxit Software’s tools for reading, creating and editing PDF files, but never bothered to actually try them out. I recently switched from using Adobe’s Acrobat reader when I finally got fed up with the oversized, bloated product and it’s constant nagging to go off and update itself online (especially since this causes a UAC prompt on Vista). I used to dig around and kill off the update functionality, but enough was enough – why should I have to struggle to try to make the software behave how I want when it might just be easier to switch to a different product.

So, after a very quick download of the 3MB installation file and a simple, no frills installation, I was ready to go. Compare this with the vast and unnecessary 21MB of Adobe’s Acrobat reader – and don’t get me started on the fact that they force me to first download a download manager before I can finally download the actual setup file, when I could have just used my several highly competent browser plugins to get the install files so much quicker. Foxit also comes as an MSI – so much easier than Adobe’s EXE file when it comes to deployment using standard tools such as Group Policy Software Installation (GPSI) or scripts. These download sizes are reflected in the relative amounts of memory consumed by these two products when opening files to view.

Why do I care about my PDF file reader so much? Well, I actually use PDFs fairly extensively for storing “read-only” copies of my own documents, which I then want to access, print, share or publish as easily as possible.

Read more of this post