Microsoft Readies IE Ballot Screen For Europe

Microsoft next week will begin a limited rollout of the ballot screen software update to Internet Explorer users in the United Kingdom, Belgium and France, where it will be publicly available as a download from Windows Update, said Dave Heiner, vice president and deputy general counsel, in a Friday blog post.

The ballot screen, which presents users with a list of browsers along with links to install them, is Microsoft's effort to end more than a decade of legal skirmishing with the EU. In addition to Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome and Opera, the ballot screen will include lesser known Web browsers such as Maxthon, K-Meleon, Flock, Avant Browser, Sleipnir and Slim Browser.

Last January, the EU issued a "statement of objections" over Microsoft's practice of bundling IE with Windows, claiming that it violated EU antitrust laws. Microsoft responded by offering to ship Windows 7 in Europe without IE, but the EU rejected that proposal on the grounds that it would confuse consumers.

In July, Microsoft proposed allowing consumers to choose a browser through use of a ballot screen, and said it planned to list competing browsers alphabetically. However, Opera, Google, and Mozilla reportedly lobbied the EU to reject this proposal.

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Microsoft has been a favorite target of the EU, which has levied around $2.5 billion in fines against the company to date for delays and various other violations.