The European Antitrust Commission just reported that Microsoft has offered to pre-install rival browsers on Windows 7 – which is due to be released in October. This proposal was offered by Microsoft as a solution in Europe to settle the pending European antitrust case regarding Microsoft’s bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows.
Under Microsoft’s proposal, a “ballot screen” would be presented to the user when they first booted up their computer. The ballot screen would give the user the ability to select which browser they wanted to use. Also, computer manufactures like Dell would be able to install competing browsers and set them as default should they wish.
The European Commission’s press release reads:
The European Commission can confirm that Microsoft has proposed a consumer ballot screen as a solution to the pending antitrust case about the tying of Microsoft Internet Explorer web browser with Windows. This followed extensive discussions with the Commission which centred on a remedy outlined in the January 2009 Statement of Objections whereby consumers would be shown a “ballot screen” from which they could – if they wished – easily install competing web browsers, set one of those browsers as a default, and disable Internet Explorer. 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.
Although this is a proposal and the European commission hasn’t made any final decisions, I am in favor of such a measure. I think presenting users with the decision when they boot up their computer is a very good thing. It will not only move to rid the world of IE, which many have been calling for, it will also serve to educate the masses on what a browser is. I know many of us take it for granted but the average person still doesn’t know what it is. This is scary given the fact that the browser is becoming an integral part of our computing experience as many things move to the cloud.