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I can't believe it... Microsoft actually fixed something that was totally pissing me off! :-D

For who-knows-how-long, I've been annoyed at how internet shortcuts on the "Links" toolbar and Favorites menu in IE would freely choose to open in a new window instead of opening in the window from which I clicked the shortcut. I suspected this was because the favorites saved not only the internet address of the shortcut, but the name of the window as well. Or something like that.

Well I installed Windows XP Service Pack 1 last night, which seemed to mostly consist of hundreds of obscure bugfixes that address things I don't even care about. But I just noticed that the few favorites that always opened their own windows are opening where I ASK for them now! Woohoo!

Another change in SP1 is the addition of the "Set Program Access and Defaults" feature, which I think I remember reading about a while ago. It's another result of the antitrust/monopoly/whatever case against Microsoft. Supposedly, this will allow you to "disable" the software embedded in the OS (Such as IE) and use your own (such as Netscape). It's Microsoft's answer to a court order to not force customers to use their software just because they bought their OS. But it's a bunch of bullshit because IE will STILL be the first browser the user sees after they install the OS. It will be there and functional until/unless they actually go in and disable it. Personally, I think the main complaint from makers of other browsers is that many customers won't even KNOW that other browsers exist simply because when they start their computers for the first time, IE is there.

Unfortunately there's no easy answer, because the main problem isn't that people don't have a choice. The problem is that the people who KNOW they can make a choice are free to do so, but those who DON'T know they can make a choice end up using IE because that's what was placed in front of them. Microsoft is acting like a catch-all to take advantage of this and I think that's what's seen as unfair.

When the problem is that people don't realize they can make a choice, making it easier to enforce a choice while still suggesting an option accomplishes nothing. I hate to say this, but I don't think it's Microsoft's fault. People need to be more aware of their options, and I'm not so sure that's Microsoft's responsibility. Sure, we could lay it on OS makers to not include ANY "default x" software, and to bring up a dialog the first time a user tries to surf the web or check e-mail saying that they must select a software package, listing several of the major contenders, but I think that's absurd, not to mention the controversy that would arise over what should be considered a major contender. No, the OS can't be responsible for providing the user with software options.

Perhaps what we need is an independently run, but official website that keeps track of all the software options out there. An OS could provide direct access to the information on that site (not using an embedded browser, mind-you, but a customized piece of code designed only for accessing this one site) to present it to the user for making a selection. Yeah, that's the best solution I can come up with right now.

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Not Microsoft's Fault

Another thing is that many people don't really care what browser they use, so they will use what is most convenient. To be perfectly honest, I've never particularly liked ANY of the browsers I've tried (IE, Netscape, and Opera) so I really don't blame them for not caring. I personally use IE because it actually does seem to work the best of the three. My dad uses Opera and Netscape. (Dad gives me funny looks for using IE).

Most websites work better in IE, they're made to work in IE, lots of people use IE. It's a good thing, I think.... when you have so many programs it's hard to make a website that works everywhere. :-p

If another company wants to attract the amount of people IE does then perhaps they should build a much better browser and then spend as much on advertizing as Microsoft does. If it's good enough and user friendly enough, it may even spread itself after a short while.

Re: Not Microsoft's Fault

I used to swear by Netscape and not use IE on principle. But at some point in college, I realized that IE was actually much cleaner-looking, better-functioning, better-written, etc. And like you say, more pages seem to work in it. I still use it now for that reason. I also have Mozilla installed simply because I'd like to support its cause, but at the moment I wouldn't give up IE for it.

I don't think another company needs to really spend anything on advertising if they want to seriously compete with IE. All they need is a comparable product, and it will catch on by itself. So far I haven't see anyone make a product good enough to do that though. If the product sucks, all the advertising in the world won't help it. To quote IBM's commercial, "You expect a song to fix that?? *laughter*"

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