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Microsoft's browser ballot bodge gets the nod

Commission agrees to test ballot screen

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Microsoft is a step nearer to settling a large part of its ongoing disagreements with the European Commission - the regulators have agreed to market-test Microsoft's suggested solution to browser bundling.

The software giant offered to include a ballot screen which would show users a choice of possible browsers when a machine is first booted up. The Commission informally tested this over the summer and asked Microsoft for some improvements.

'Steelie' Neelie Kroes said: "The Commission's preliminary view is that Microsoft's commitments would indeed address our competition concerns.

"Microsoft's proposal in particular recognises the principle that consumers should be given a free and effective choice of web browser. It would empower all current and future users of Windows in Europe to choose which browser they wished to use. It would therefore have a direct and immediate impact on the market."

Microsoft's general counsel Brad Smith also welcomed the move.

The screen will include the 12 most popular browsers in the European Union. The Commission said that as there are five main browsers currently in use, this would leave room for potential new entrants.

Hardware makers will also be able to set another browser as default and disable Internet Explorer. The commitment to the choice screen will stay in place for five years.

The Commission statement is here. ®

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