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Microsoft, EU (Probably) Settle on Browser Ballot Screen

The ongoing, nasty and extremely expensive regulatory battle between Microsoft and the European Union seems to have reached a sort of armistice -- and it involves Microsoft conceding to using the infamous browser ballot screen.

Quoth Bloomberg:

"Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft in July accepted a key EU demand that it give consumers a choice of browsers through a so-called ballot screen. Under the settlement, consumers who buy new personal computers will be given a choice of the 12 most widely used browsers to install in addition to, or instead of, Microsoft's Internet Explorer, the commission said.

"The agreement, which would last five years, would allow PC makers to install competing Web browsers, set them as a default program and to disable Internet Explorer, the EU said."

Disable Internet Explorer? Wow, that's a long way from just offering the browser ballot screen. Of course, users would surely be able to enable it again (right?), but the browser war really is on now -- or it will be in Europe as soon as this settlement becomes official. Well, it will be for the 12 browsers (we're not sure we can name 12 browsers) that will make the final ballot screen cut.

We haven't been big fans here of the EU's treatment of Microsoft for the most part, but give those Eurocrats some credit; they don't give up. Microsoft is a convicted monopolist in this country, but it never really paid very heavily for committing that "crime" (which is fine by us). Not so in Europe -- the EU has been an absolute beast in going after Microsoft. Agree with the EU or not (and we mostly don't), we can respect that.

Posted by Lee Pender on October 08, 2009


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