Microsoft Stops Making IE8 Default Browser - Again

Microsoft promised a federal judge it would stop designating Internet Explorer 8 as the default browser on express installations by today.

This was part of its antitrust settlement compliance report, in response to an accusation in May by Mozilla and Opera that the software giant was changing users' default browsers back to IE8 when they used the Windows Update service.

One of the options in the update service is "Express," which - as the name implies - completes the installation the fastest and with the least amount of input from the user. But if the user had already designated another browser such as Firefox, Opera or Chrome as his default, the Express update overwrote it and made IE8 the go-to browser on the computer.

The Department of Justice pointed out that "unsophisticated users" were the most likely to choose the Express option when updating, and these users were the most likely to be confused by the process.

"Even though it was possible for the user to revert to the original default browser, [the state plaintiffs in the antitrust case] were concerned that the Express process was confusing, especially for unsophisticated users."

The new update install will have a screen pop up first that asks users, clearly, what they want the default browser to be.

The report that resolved the status update issue also "addressed a long-time complaint about problems with technical documentation for communication protocols that Microsoft is required to share as part of the November 2002 antitrust judgment imposed by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia."

Basically, because of the problems in the 30,000 pages of technical documentation, parts of the antitrust decree was extended until May 2011. The lawyers with the 19 states involved in the antitrust suit said they thought Microsoft was doing better and making progress on resolving those problems.

A compliance hearing is scheduled for Thursday.