updated 09:20 am EDT, Wed October 7, 2009
EU to market test Win 7 browser choice
The European Commission on Wednesday said it would conduct a market test (PDF) of Microsoft's proposed browser ballot feature for Windows 7. The plan will let EU residents buying the Microsoft OS choose from one of multiple major web browsers shortly after they receive the system and use that in place of Internet Explorer. A successful test would make the ballot standard for most European copies and would resolve the ongoing antitrust case accusing the American firm of abusing its Windows monopoly.
As part of the experiment, Microsoft has made changes that should both provide a basic explanation of web browsers to start as well as put competing browsers on a more equal footing.
Commission officials didn't say when they expected the trial to end but are taking comments until November 7th. A decision is likely to be reached on the suitability of the ballot before the end of the year; if accepted, the measure would bind Microsoft to implementing the ballot for at least five years and to allow the Commission to review the approach should it not have the intended effect.
Microsoft said it welcomed the test and hoped it would be "closing a decade-long chapter" of legal trouble in the EU.
The ballot was implemented after the EU rejected an initial proposal that would have shipped Windows 7 without any browsers at all at retail and forced those upgrading their existing computers to either pick up an Internet Explorer disc or otherwise acquire a browser through much more difficult means.