Microsoft Hopes to Assuage EU Antitrust Concerns with 'Browser Ballot'


In an effort to rectify the problems the European Union has with its operating system and browser packaging, Microsoft has proposed allowing consumers to choose to install browsers other than Internet Explorer with a "browser ballot."


CNET News quotes an EU statement about the proposal this way:

Windows 7 would include Internet Explorer, but 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. In addition, (computer makers) would be able to install competing Web browsers, set those as default and disable Internet Explorer should they so wish. The Commission welcomes this proposal, and will now investigate its practical effectiveness in terms of ensuring genuine consumer choice.


Until the Commission approves the proposal, the story says, PCs sold in Europe will continue to be "browserless."


Microsoft's browser competitors Opera Software and Mozilla have mixed reactions about the proposed ballot. Opera representatives say "It's a happy day for us." Mozilla, on the other hand, is "cautious," according to CNET writer Ina Fried. The company behind the Firefox browser indicated it will wait to see how Microsoft chooses which browser options to include in the ballot and what those competitors will have to do or agree to before being included. Mozilla acknowledges, however, that allowing consumers a choice of browsers is a "good development."