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Microsoft and the European Union finally seem to be on the verge of working out their differences, with a new Windows 7 balloting proposal.  (Source: MSDN/Microsoft)
The European Commission and Microsoft appear to finally be on the verge of resolving an antitrust dispute over Windows 7's browser

Microsoft has long packaged its Internet Explorer browser with Windows.  The bundling has given Microsoft's browser a dominant position in the marketplace, despite promising alternatives including Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and Google Chrome.  That cozy position could soon change, though, thanks to action by Europe's antitrust watchdog and business regulatory body, the European Commission.

The EC demanded Microsoft offer a ballot selection screen to allow users to pick their browser of choice with Windows 7.  Microsoft at first refused, saying it would not include IE 8 in European copies of Windows 7.  In the end, though, Microsoft came around and agreed to a ballot screen.

The EC had some minor complaints about Microsoft's first proposal -- mainly its lack of information to users about what the browsers were to help them make their selection.  Under the new proposal, which the EC calls much "improved" users could find out information on what a browser is from the ballot screen.  They would also have access to additional information about each browser they could install, to help them make their decision. 

Under the new proposal, the balloting system would work for five years after purchase on any new install.  Windows 7 and all future versions of Windows would implement this scheme.

EC showed Microsoft some love, with a regulator stating, "The commission's concern has been that PC users should have an effective and unbiased choice between Internet Explorer and competing Web browsers to ensure competition on the merits and to allow consumers to benefit from technical development and innovation both on the Web-browser market and on related markets, such as Web-based applications."

Brad Smith, general counsel of Microsoft stated that his company was "pleased by today's decisions."

Microsoft and Europe have had a rocky relationship, with Microsoft fined 899 million euros ($1.35 billion) in 2008 for antitrust violations.  Brad Smith says that situation has greatly turned around, though.  He gave Europe some love back, stating, "It's heartening to see the much better relationship that exists today."

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Give them an inch they will take a mile
By crystal clear on 10/7/2009 10:20:06 AM , Rating: 3
Under the new proposal, which the EC calls much "improved" users could find out information on what a browser is from the ballot screen.

The E.U. will in the future expand the ballot screen to include not only browsers but search engines & a host of plug ins to a collection of free anti virus softwares in addition to Microsoft Security Essentials .

Hey this ballot screen is just the beginning for more to come.

By crystal clear on 10/7/2009 11:09:46 AM , Rating: 2
The second measure is a “public undertaking” that covers interoperability with Microsoft’s products—the way our high share products work with products from our competitors. This applies to an important set of Microsoft’s products—our Windows, Windows Server, Office, Exchange and SharePoint products—and represents the single biggest legal commitment in the history of the software industry to promote interoperability. Microsoft’s proposed undertaking will ensure that developers throughout the industry, including in the open source community, will have access to technical documentation to assist them in building products that work well with Microsoft products. Microsoft will also be required to support certain industry standards in its products and to fully document how these standards are supported. Microsoft’s proposed undertaking will make available legally-binding warranties that would be offered to third parties.

also this from the above link-

Adjust the placement of the browser choices on the ballot screen so that Internet Explorer is no longer listed first. Instead, the five most popular browsers will be listed in alphabetical order by vendor, followed by the next seven most popular (also alphabetical), so that 12 choices are displayed in total.

• Adopt suggestions from competitors to strengthen Microsoft’s obligations to publish documentation about the company’s interoperability technology.

• Address security software vendor feedback by ensuring disclosure of certain programming interfaces accessed by Microsoft’s own security products.

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