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Microsoft is trying hard to live up to the EU's expectations when it comes to browsers, introducing a balloting screen to Windows 7. Microsoft did express its frustration about the demands in a recent blog posting, though.  (Source: Blog CDN)

An official view of Microsoft's proposed browser ballot for Windows 7.  (Source: Microsoft)
Short-lived browser-free edition to be replaced with stock Windows 7 with ballot screen

Rather than deprive users of the ability to have Windows 7 come with Microsoft's marketshare-leading Internet Explorer, Microsoft decided to instead submit to the requests of Opera, Mozilla, and others and introduce a ballot screen to Windows 7.

The news marked the cancellation of the special Windows 7 E edition, which was to be released in Europe and ship without Internet Explorer.  Microsoft issued a blog/press release on the topic discussing the developments.  Microsoft writes, "(W)e are committed to making Windows 7 available in Europe at the same time it is available to consumers worldwide on October 22."

"To meet that goal, and in light of the Commission’s pending legal inquiry of our inclusion of IE in Windows, we decided last month that we would ship a unique version of Windows 7 in Europe—which we dubbed Windows 7 “E”—that would not include a Web browser. Instead, we decided to offer IE separately and on an easy-to-install basis to both computer manufacturers and users who wanted the Microsoft browser."

Instead, the European Union will now get standard versions of Windows 7.  The balloting screen will be delivered over the internet, according to Microsoft's proposal, and will only be available in Europe.  Vista and Windows XP will also get makeovers to feature the ballot.  In order to make the ballot, browsers must have sufficient marketshare -- currently this means Mozilla's Firefox, Opera, Apple's Safari, and Google's Chrome

Microsoft acknowledges that the move may cause Internet Explorer to significantly lose marketshare in Europe.  States Microsoft, "This consumer ballot screen may result in some users switching from IE to other browsers.  It is unlikely to lead to any users switching to IE, since the screen will not be presented to Windows users whose default is Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Opera or any other browser."

The company, however, was not without complaints about the EU's decision to force balloting upon it.  It somewhat bitterly states, "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."

Microsoft hopes the EU will accept its proposal and not push for more antitrust fines/charges.  In the U.S. Windows 7 will still come with IE 8 installed as the default browser.  Microsoft has not mentioned whether the removal of the Windows 7 E edition will have any affect on its EU pricing.





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