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Windows 7, Vista and XP users will be given a menu of browsers to try and install

Microsoft aborts Windows 7E, offers ‘browser ballot’

Microsoft has aborted plans to release a special edition of Windows 7 for European customers.

The news comes as Microsoft prepares a final solution to ongoing accusations of ‘unfair’ browser bundling with Windows packages.|

That solution is a ‘browser ballot page’; an automatic pop-up which asks Windows users which browser they would like to use, from Safari to Firefox to IE. 

Not only will this be available to new European Windows 7 customers, but also it will be updated into every European edition of XP and Vista. That means all Euro Windows users will eventually be asked if they want to try or learn more about other internet browsers.

The plan is subject to European Commission approval but preliminary discussions are highly promising.

Back in January, a vital European Commission ruling stated that Microsoft’s practice of adding Internet Explorer in Windows OS packages, making it the default browser, had “harmed competition between web browsers, undermines product innovation and ultimately reduces consumer choice.”

Microsoft’s initial response was to offer an edition of Windows 7 without a web browser at all and rebrand the package Windows 7E. Yet the EC never claimed it wanted zero browsers with every Windows package, but instead a choice. 

This led to Microsoft’s ‘ballot webpage’ proposal. 

Speaking in a recent company blog, Microsoft VP and deputy general counsel Dave Heiner said,

“As you might imagine, it was not easy for Microsoft to accept the idea that we would essentially promote directly competing software from within our flagship product, Windows.

“Still, we believe that this approach is better for all concerned, including computer manufacturers and browser vendors — and most of all consumers — than an approach focused on removing Internet Explorer from Windows.

“This consumer ballot approach will make it easy for users to choose any browser. At the same time, it will preserve the benefits for consumers and software developers of an integrated solution for Web browsing. 

“In this way the benefits of both integrated and standalone solutions are preserved. It will also streamline computer manufacturing and deployment by large enterprises because Windows will be the same in Europe as in the rest of the world.”

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