Nearly two weeks ago, Microsoft agreed to change the Browser Ballot Screen which allows users to select a browser of their choice to install with their operating system. Microsoft has been plagued by the EU and competing browser makers over the bundling of IE with all Microsoft operating systems.
Well now finally Microsoft and the EU have reached an agreement.European Commissioner for Competition Policy Neelie Kroes, today announced a resolution to the Internet Explorer antitrust case against Microsoft. All Windows PCs sold in the E.U. will now have a browser ballot screen bundled with them which allows users to install alternative browsers, and not just IE.
The ballot screen will allow users to pick from 12 commonly used browsers such as, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera and of course Internet Explorer. Originally the EU commission rejected the ballot screen after appeals made by Firefox and Opera claimed that an unfair advantage was given to browsers because they were placed in alphabetical order. You can read more about that here.
Since the complaints submitted, Microsoft has listened to the feedback and edited the browser ballot screen so that the EU is now happy with it. The EC now sees that the ballot screen is less cluttered and makes it easier for users to select an appropriate browser. The ballot screen will no longer be displayed in an Internet Explorer window, but in it’s own window. The different browsers will also appear in random order each time.
Microsoft has promised to make the screen available for five years in the European Union and offer it for Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7, according to Europe’s antitrust regulators. It’s expected that it will be pushed out to Windows PCs during the first half of 2010.
The EU believes this is a very important step in conserving competition in the European Union.
“Millions of European consumers will benefit from this decision by having a free choice about which web browser they use,” “Such choice will not only serve to improve people’s experience of the internet now but also act as an incentive for web browser companies to innovate and offer people better browsers in the future.”
While I’m sure Microsoft are no doubt pretty annoyed about this whole EU Antitrust case which has threatened the release of Windows 7 and cost them a lot of money, I say they are glad it’s finally over
Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith said in the statement:
“We are embarking on a path that will require significant change within Microsoft. Nevertheless, we believe that these are important steps that resolve these competition law concerns,” ”This is an important day and a major step forward, and we look forward to building a new foundation for the future in Europe.”
Starting six months from now, Microsoft must report regularly to the Commission on its progress in implementing the new commitments, and the Commission can review the commitments two years from now.