updated 03:20 pm EDT, Fri July 24, 2009
Euro Win 7 Multi Browser
Microsoft this afternoon hoped to settle the European Commission's antitrust case over unfair web browser bundling by promising to give users a choice of web browsers when Windows 7 ships in October. The proposal mimics the EC's solution and would provide a "ballot" that lets first-time users choose from one of multiple browsers, all of which would be pre-loaded in Windows. As before, users could also download other browsers and set them as the default.
Which browsers would be included weren't divulged, but Internet Explorer will be one of the options and major competitors like Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Safari are unofficially the most likely candidates.
Commission officials said the potential settlement was the result of discussions with Microsoft and that the negotiations also involved talk of improving interoperability between third-party apps and Windows in a separate case.
The proposal is an abrupt turnaround for Microsoft from its initial solution to accusations of abusing its monopoly to shut out rival web browsers. It had initially said it would leave out all browsers but was quickly shot down. European regulators claimed the idea didn't go far enough and would give those buying Windows detached from a PC little choice but to look for a physical copy or a more difficult way of downloading their choices of browsers.
In its news of the proposal, the EC didn't say whether it was content with the solution but said it would review the suggestion to see whether it will be effective.