Despite paying a huge fine and being dragged through a lengthy, public and costly lawsuit with the European Commission's antitrust regulators, Microsoft forgot to include the browser ballot.
This ballot would allow users to choose the browser they prefer when first installing Windows, rather than being stuck with Internet Explorer, in copies of Windows 7 with the Service Pack 1 included.
Microsoft kept on forgetting to do this for 15 months until it was finally caught. The company may face some dire consequences over the mistake, but the damage has already been done.
For more than a year, Windows customers were not able to pick the browser they wanted or, even worse, were unaware that they had a choice.
It's hard to estimate the full impact of the move, but Mozilla has some interesting numbers. It believes that Firefox lost between six and nine million downloads during the time the ballot was not shown.
Mozilla looked at download numbers and how they progressed before the issue, during it and after it was resolved. The data is telling, Firefox download dropped considerably after Microsoft dropped the ballot screen.
Here's what Mozilla's Harvey Anderson, involved in legal affairs at the company, revealed, based on the data Mozilla has.
“- Daily Firefox downloads decreased by 63% to a low of 20,000 just prior to the fix;
- After the fix, Firefox downloads increased 150% to approximately 50,000 per day; and
- Cumulatively 6 to 9 million Firefox browser downloads were lost during this period.”
It's safe to assume that all other browsers were similarly affected. The ballot provided users a choice between the built-in IE or alternatives such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera or Safari. Less popular browsers were also included, but not shown in the first page presented to users.