And so it came to pass, after months of watching and opining and speculating, that in mid-December we got the letter from Microsoft’s attorneys. The European Commission had adopted a decision settling its current tying case with Microsoft. Among other things, this decision introduced a mandatory browser choice screen for Microsoft Windows users. Would we like to participate?
(Yes, we would.)
Our deliverables had to be submitted by January 15. Others in our (amazing, amazing) community did all the real work, but since I was asked to pick up the coordination and delivery of those pieces, I wanted to talk about them a little.
In broad strokes, Microsoft asked us for 3 things:
- An icon for the choice screen itself
- Localized content for each supported locale
- Administrative pieces that aren’t really interesting here.
First things first, then.
Among the many things for which I take no credit, I take no credit for this. Patrick Finch and Jennifer Boriss worked the logo question up and down. There was market research in more than a dozen countries, there were mechanical turks, and a great deal of analysis from all quarters. Taking the research as a whole, this design led the others by a healthy margin. It beat other background colours*, it beat other styles, and it beat versions that omitted the word “mozilla” to focus harder on the product brand. Design decisions tend to be very personal, but Patrick and Boriss ran this thing like champs, and by the numbers.
[*Curiously, in Italy a version with an orange background did significantly better than the green. We asked if we could provide an icon per locale. No such luck.]
We were also asked to supply a 140-character* product description in each of 23 languages, specifically:
Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian (Bokmal), Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish
In what is fast becoming a pattern, I can take no credit for making this happen, either. Patrick (always Patrick) worked with Staś, Seth, and our amazing localizers, and collectively they got it done.
Got it overdone, really. Our team noted that while the EU has 23 “working” languages (and two more that are official EEA languages), we were quite capable of providing several more as well. They also pointed out that there were some surprises in the list supplied – it was similar, but not identical, to the EU working languages list. Maltese and Gaelic had been dropped, Croatian and Norwegian had been added. We offered to supply the missing ones, along with some others, but we heard back that, no, the choice screen will be limited to those 23. You can see our complete submission, here.
Content! We have a little more than a month before the Browser Choice page goes live, and that means the localization and web dev teams (and Patrick…) are pushing to get everything ready for our new visitors. While we get that together, Microsoft will be running QA on the page itself in all 23 languages. We don’t get to QA the pages ourselves, but they have been responsive throughout this process; I trust that any issues they discover with our content will be brought to our attention quickly.
We did confirm that users in locales outside of the 23 requested will be shown the en-GB version of the Browser Choice page, which may give us the ability to wire up the Tell Me More and Download links with additional locale smarts if we want to provide extra information for those users.
So there you have it. We got the first pass done on a tight schedule, and we’ll get the rest in on time, too. At the end of the day, though, I think Mitchell put it best:
While the ballot mechanism represented by the choice screen has received the most attention, Mozilla is most pleased with the core principles Microsoft will be adopting that protect the choices a person has already made. These principles won’t be obvious to a person using Windows. That’s the point — once a person has chosen an alternative browser, IE should not keep reappearing. These principles are expressed in several components of the commitments and together should result in a greater respect for individual human decisions.