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Microsoft reveals browser ballot screen, rollout begins next week

Starting next month, users in the EU will begin receiving a Windows update which finally implements the browser ballot screen which was approved in December 2009.

The update adds a new shortcut to the desktop labeled "Browser Choice" and on Windows 7 it will also replace Internet Explorer on the taskbar if a user happens to have it pinned there. Launching the shortcut opens a window which provides a little background information about what's going on.

Once a user clicks ok to confirm they're connected to the Internet, the actual selection screen will appear with the 12 browsers displayed in random order with their icons and a blurb (the top five -- IE, Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, and Opera -- will appear first, also in random order).

There's also a select later button at the bottom of the window should a user not want to be bothered with choosing at the moment.

I'm curious to see how much impact this actually has on the browser landscape in the EU. After all, the taskbar icon can be unpinned and the desktop icon can be deleted like any other. Some users will have updates disabled and some will choose not to install the ballot update manually -- and they'll never even see the screen.

Then there's also the minor detail that the window still sports Internet Explorer branding. There's the extremely recognizable icon on the taskbar and in the upper left corner of the ballot window. Is that enough of a hint to keep users clicking back to IE8?

We'll find out next week when the update begins rolling out in the UK, Belgium, and France. The rest of the EU will begin seeing the screen on March 1. Stay tuned!

Tags: ballot, browser, choice, chrome, ec, eu, firefox, internet explorer, InternetExplorer, opera, screen