The European Union antitrust investigation into Microsoft and its bundling of Internet Explorer into every installation of Windows has caused the world's largest software maker to re-tool a special version of Windows 7 for the European market.
Microsoft's original plan to appease the EU was to not bundle Internet Explorer 8 with Windows 7 at all. But just last week, Microsoft proposed a new system whereby users would be presented with a choice upon installation of which browser he or she wishes to use.
"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 general counsel Brad Smith said in a statement in a CNet story.
The European Commission confirmed that it received Microsoft's proposal of having a consumer ballot screen whereby consumers could easily install competing web browsers, set one of those browsers as a default, and disable Internet Explorer.
The Commission wrote in a memo, "Under the proposal, Windows 7 would include Internet Explorer, but the proposal recognises 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 OEMs 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."
Should this be approved, it would be a positive step for European consumers. Previously, those in the EU were faced with a version of Windows 7 that would have no browser at all. This sparked concerns from the European Commission that, "without measures such as a ballot screen, [Microsoft's removal of IE] would not necessarily have achieved greater consumer choice in practice and would not have been an effective remedy."