EU browser ballot: Will universities let students choose?

EU browser ballot: Will universities let students choose?

Summary: Windows users will soon be patched to bring up a browser ballot box, to allow the user to pick a browser to use. How will universities deal with this?

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TOPICS: Browser
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The European Commission has spoken. Microsoft will be issuing an automatic update during the next couple of weeks to all EU users of Windows, to allow them to choose a web browser.

As a result of the anti-trust case by Opera, Microsoft is now obliged to offer the top ten browsers available for Windows in competition to pre-installed Internet Explorer, which still holds the highest browser market-share worldwide.

My question is how will universities react to the news, and will they either be forced to enact this EU directive, will they choose to allow students to select and install their own browser through personal choice, or will they block the update to ensure all systems remain as they are without bureaucratic interference.

From the technical side of things, the update could be rolled out to every computer, therefore user (the student) on campus. This would require some efforts on behalf of the student to select their preferred browser. But even though the majority of university computers offer a free reign experience, students often don't have the desktop security permissions, registry access or even storage space to install browsers. This would have to come from the top down; for the IT teams to determine a browser or selection of browsers and have them on offer on login.

I have explored the possibility of a non-Internet Explorer alternative in the university environment. It didn't really go down so well. At the end of the day, as a Microsoft technology, IE can be controlled behind the scenes far easier than Firefox or other browser. And with policies and updates, it makes sense from a technical point of view to keep IE where it is.

But the European Commission disagrees, and so universities must do something. Either accept the update and let users - the students - choose, or don't accept the update and keep everything as it is.

But this is what student unions are for. The UK has a very popular, widely used student union culture, whereas many other countries and states do not so. For us, if students wanted the choice of another browser - one which broke away from the mould for whatever reason - the union would support the students and lobby for change.

At this point in time, I doubt very much whether the update administrators for most universities will allow this update to go through. As and when the roll-out starts, we shall just have to wait and see. I've asked a number of universities' IT departments to comment, but am yet waiting for a response. Any updates will be filed here.

Topic: Browser

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18 comments
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  • Hmmm. Looks like a non issue.

    Web Admins should dictate connectivity. Not a big deal.

    I think it is sort of embarrassing that MS buckled to the EU Mafia. I would have been tempted to just quit delivering IE and let the users go buy a browser over the counter.
    notme403@...
    • buy? nt

      nt
      T1Oracle
  • EU to manage Group Policy too?

    What is next, should the wise EU then tell MS how to deploy Group Policy
    Raid6
  • So if....

    you cannot use IE because you run OSX or Linux, I guess you are barred from connecting if you go to a UK university.

    Either this blog is much ado about nothing or UK universities must have lost their cotton pickin' minds.

    And as far as the EU browser ballot decision goes, it was just late. Given MS's past conduct it was a perfectly reasonable thing to do. In addition I think it is called "rule of law", or something like that, which many in the US apparently fail to grasp.
    Economister
    • Givien MS's past conduct....???? what?

      [i]"Given MS's past conduct it was a perfectly reasonable thing to do."[/i]

      Qualify that please (without a bunch of links to other sites, in your own words!).
      Raid6
      • It is a matter of public record, including the conviction

        Your faked incredulity notwithstanding.
        Economister
        • OIC

          OIC, thanks for the non-answer answer.

          It serves you well to leave your blatant disregard for substantiating such arrogant assertions without merit - NOT.
          Raid6
      • EU's argument with Microsoft is on the record.

        Look it up in "boing", or whatever your oracle is called. Unless Microsoft suppressed it there, in which case try Google China.
        Robert Carnegie 2009
  • RE: EU browser ballot: Will universities let students choose?

    I think this is simple, but some details to answer this question are not here.

    Broken down simply, if the student owns the computer, it should be up to him or her whether this, or any other app is installed on the PC. There should be no reason why a student-owned piece of equipment should be tied to a school's WSUS anyway. If the PC is school-owned, well, it is up to the policies and technical requirements of the school, and will undoubtedly be handled by WSUS.
    djmik
    • Handled by WSUS?

      How is this handled by WSUS?
      Raid6
      • Well it could be blocked in WSUS...

        ...and most users would be none the wiser!
        DevJonny
    • With respect I disagree

      I noticed on here that if you disagree with someone they take it as a personal insult, please don't think I am :)

      They way I see it, if a student owns a laptop they should be able to install and use what ever they want to, as long as they don't expect it to join a school network.

      You can't expect any network admin to let potentally infected computers join a network for anything more than web access.

      Another reason is a web app takes time and money to make. Expecting them to be able to make it work on every type of browser is not going to happen. Schools just are not going to spend that type of money.
      Cobra7fac
  • Let's see...

    Apple bundles a browser.
    EVERY Linux disto bundles a browser.
    ChromeOS IS the browser.

    I'd say that time has proven the IE bundling
    conviction pretty much invalid and worthless. Not to
    mention that anyone could install any other browser on
    Windows. By the way, how many browsers run on Windows?
    IE, FF, Chrome, Safari, Opera, and all variations
    thereof. How many different browsers run on OSX,
    Linux, and ChromeOS? Yeah, thought so.
    aep528
    • Study up on anti-trust law (nt)

      nt
      Economister
  • RE: EU browser ballot: Will universities let students choose?

    i don't understand why the EU is making microsoft do this. hopefully it doesn't happen in the usa. anyway somebody has already started a petition to microsoft to not do it:
    http://www.petitiononline.com/t647lf75/petition.html
    rickcrawley
  • Of course locked-down machines will stay locked down.

    Universities traditionally were awash with computer viruses. If you want your university's owned and managed computers to stay secure, you'll rule them like the Taliban.

    On the other hand, you probably have the wit to offer and provide several browsers on all desktops - as long as they're reliable. Every seat can have IE, Firefox, Opera, right there. Well, if you put IE onto Linux then you deserve... recognition...

    And students' own machines are probably their own business.
    Robert Carnegie 2009
  • Probably Will Come in a Different Manner

    As universities leverage web sites, such as a portal, LMS, etc., browser choice may be narrowed automatically. Since universities are on a constrained budget, that could be a valid means of keeping the cost of providing services low (I realize that depending on the significance you assign to free browser choice, most applications you buy, lease, or develop could support all major browsers, but if depends on your prioritization). In that case, enabling or disallowing browser choice may effectively take place in a different manner. It'll be interesting to see whether someone is going to sue a university for not allowing a certain browser to access a university-provided service.
    dunraven
  • RE: EU browser ballot: Will universities let students choose?

    That's sounds great. I hope that is going to be successfull
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