Browser selection screens comes in the EU; Mozilla warns against "dirty tricks"

Mozilla[German]Browser selection screens are likely to become standard again in the EU from 2024 thanks to the Digital Markets Act (DMA). In anticipation of the European Commission's Digital Markets Act (DMA), Mozilla has addressed the issue and warns against "dirty tricks" by operating system vendors with which they have had bad experiences in the past.


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The days I had reported in the blog postVivaldi developer complains in letter to EU about Microsoft's approach to Edge about an open letter from the Vivaldi developer to the EU about unfair practices of Microsoft with the Edge browser. Jon von Tetzchner, CEO of Vivaldi, he Microsoft's practice of virtually forcing the Microsoft Edge browser on users. He documents Microsoft's unfair practices and invokes the Digital Markets Act (DMA) as a basis for forcing Microsoft to cease anti-competitive behavior.

And this is where it gets exciting, as the Mozilla Foundation also takes up the Digital Markets Act (DMA) to report on browser unfairness. According to this Mozilla blog post, browser selection screens are coming back. Most notably, the EU's Digital Markets Act (DMA) mandates these browser selection screens starting in 2024 to promote fair competition.

But legislators and regulators in many other countries have also considered choice screens, among other measures to address deep-rooted competition problems in browsers and browser engines (covered in more detail in Mozilla's 2022 report "Five Walled Gardens").

In Mozilla's 25-year history, several previous attempts to restore competition in browsers have failed, writes the Mozilla Foundation. The DMA now has the great potential to change that record, it says. It represents a unique opportunity to improve competition and fairness for consumers – it says, and the Mozilla Foundation is committed to achieving its intended goals.

However, relatively little attention has been paid to the effectiveness of browser competition remedies. Only a handful of operating systems have the ability to test different types of browser interventions on their platforms, and there is little or no public data or research on this.


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To contribute to understanding and progress in this area, the Mozilla Foundation conducted an innovative, large-scale experiment on the factors that influence the effectiveness of such a browser selection screen . As part of our research, 12,000 people in Germany, Spain, and Poland were given a highly realistic virtual Windows or Android device. By varying the design, content, and timing of the browser choice screens, Mozilla experts were able to determine how these factors influence consumer choice.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

This research has shown that browser selection screens have the potential to be effective. Well-designed browser selection screens can improve competition by giving people meaningful choices and increasing their satisfaction and sense of control. And all of this can be achieved without overwhelming people or taking up too much time.

In addition, people have strong preferences: They have been found to want the ability to choose their default browser (rather than being assigned one by the operating system/device manufacturer); they also want to choose from a wider range of browsers.

As for when to make a choice, users prefer to see a browser choice screen during device setup, rather than after setup when they first use the default preloaded browser. This makes sense – people make other important decisions about their device settings during setup, but a choice screen that appears the first time they use the default browser is likely to disrupt consumers' workflow. This is borne out by previous research in which Mozilla tested different approaches to fixing browser competition-beyond choice screens.

Basically, this research shows that the details of browser choice are absolutely critical. Operating systems have the ability and incentive to push people towards their own products – that's nothing new. The Mozilla folks found that even small changes can affect the effectiveness of browser choice remedies. A 68-page PDF report has more details.

Detailed monitoring by regulators and consultation with third parties, including independent browsers, behavioral experts, and consumer groups, are essential to creating effective remedies. Without these and other complementary remedies, browser choice remains a missed opportunity. While choice will not revolutionize the browser market overnight, with careful design it could at least be a step in the right direction. (via)


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