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EU approves Microsoft's browser ballot screen for 5-year stint

Back in July, Microsoft thought they had a pretty solid compromise to put before EU regulators with their web browser ballot screen. Concerns were raised throughout the process -- first by Opera and later by Mozilla's brass -- but it looks as though the EU is giving Microsoft the go-ahead.

According to Nelie Kroes, European Commissioner for Competition Policy, the ballot screen will include the twelve most popular browsers in the EU. To make the cut, a browser must be among the top dozen in usage share in the EU territory.

Kroes' spoke favorably of Microsoft's efforts:

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.

Does this mean we won't be hearing any more about this issue? Likely not. First and foremost, the deployment is being considered "market testing" at this point. On top of that, not much has changed since Opera first complained about the ballot screen and the install process also isn't as simple as Mozilla wanted it to be.

The approved screen will include "more information" buttons for each browser and download links, but that seems to have been enough to satisfy the EU. Microsoft has indeed enabled users to make a choice - figuring out how to get another browser completely installed is going to be up to the end user.

At least for now. The EU has included a review clause so the commission can ensure the ballot screen is "working properly" over the next five years.

Tags: ballot-screen, browser-ballot, competition, ec, eu, internet-explorer, monopoly, news