Thursday, 25 February 2010

Screen when booting PC that says, "Information regarding web browsers"

In the next few days you may start up your PC and unexpectedly see a screen which says, "Information regarding web browsers". The screen is shown here:


Although this appears at first glance to be a virus, it is actually a legitimate part of Microsoft Windows.

For many years Microsoft have been arguing with the European Courts about the fact that Windows ships with Internet Explorer built in. It is not possible to uninstall Internet Explorer and you don't get a choice as to whether or not it is installed. The European Courts feel that this is anti-competitive.

As part of Microsoft's answer to the European Courts they have brought out this scary screen, which will be automatically shown on your computer through Microsoft Updates, (if you use M$ Updates and Internet Explorer is your default browser.)

Sadly, they seem to have chosen to give as little information on the screen as possible, which is likely to lead to a lot of panic. It looks and smells like a virus, not like a normal Microsoft Update. (This may, of course, be a deliberate act by Microsoft, in order to thumb their corporate nose at the European Courts.)

Click OK on this screen and another will appear which offers you the opportunity to choose other Internet Browsers. So far as I can tell you must make a choice by clicking an "Install" button under the browser of your choice, otherwise the screen will reappear every time you start the computer until you do make a choice. That is the case even if you are happily using the browser of your choice.

My advice would be to choose either Firefox or Google Chrome. Both are faster than Internet Explorer, and reportedly more secure, (although that would be denied by M$).

A long-winded explanation from Micro$oft is available here - http://microsoftontheissues.com/cs/blogs/mscorp/archive/2010/02/19/the-browser-choice-screen-for-europe-what-to-expect-when-to-expect-it.aspx

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