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Microsoft Offers Browser Choice

The software maker proposes letting buyers in Europe select Web browser from a "ballot screen."

Microsoft has proposed a plan under which European consumers who buy a Windows 7 PC would, upon initial startup, see a screen that would let them choose as their default Web browser either Internet Explorer or a browser from a third party, such as Mozilla.

Microsoft made the proposal Friday to address charges by European regulators that it's bundling of Explorer with Windows violates competition rules on the Continent.

Microsoft's offer follows its proposal earlier this year that it ship a version of Windows in Europe with no browsers at all. The European Commission said that plan would unfairly penalize European computer buyers.

"Under our new proposal, among other things, European consumers who buy a new Windows PC with Internet Explorer set as their default browser would be shown a 'ballot screen' from which they could, if they wished, easily install competing browsers from the Web," Microsoft said in a statement.

"If this proposal is accepted, Microsoft will ship Windows in Europe with the full functionality available in the rest of the world," said the company.

European officials said they "welcomed" the proposal. "The proposal recognizes the principle that consumers should be given a free and effective choice of Web browser, and sets out a means—the ballot screen—by which Microsoft believes that can be achieved," the EC said in a statement.

The Commission said it would further study Microsoft's proposal.

Microsoft and European trustbusters have butted heads numerous times previously. Last year, the EC hit the company with a record $1.35 billion antitrust fine, claiming that Microsoft failed to make available to rivals documentation needed to create products that are interoperable with Windows.


InformationWeek has published an indepth report on Windows 7. Download the report here (registration required).

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