EU warms to Microsoft's browser ballot screen idea

By on October 7, 2009, 2:30 PM
Microsoft is one step closer to finally reaching an agreement with the European Commission over its practice of bundling Internet Explorer with Windows. Back in July, the software giant offered to include a ballot screen which would show users in Europe a choice of possible browsers during the Windows 7 installation process. Now after several months of back and forth discussions about how that screen should look and operate, amid skepticism from competitors, the European Commission looks ready to settle the case.


The main changes since Microsoft's original proposals in July were the inclusion of a little introduction to each browser, "Tell Me More" buttons underneath each browser choice and the ability for the Commission to review the screen in future to ensure it is still fulfilling its competitive purpose. Browsers will be easily downloaded from the ballot screen, without favoring any particular option, presenting them in alphabetical order.

The new version of the ballot screen would be offered to all European users of current versions of Windows -- meaning XP, Vista, and now Windows 7 -- for a five-year period. Under the revised proposal, PC makers will also be able to install competing browsers, set any of them as default and even disable Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Obviously, users will retain the ability to turn any browser on or off as they choose.

European regulators said they would open up the new proposal for public comment, starting October 9, before giving Microsoft the go-ahead. Interested parties will have one month to file comments.




User Comments: 23

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Guest said:

What kind of crap is this? If you dont like the software then dont use it, its that simple. MS should tell Europe to shove it where the sun doesnt shine and make their own OS.

Guest said:

Evidently these european regulators have too much time on their hands. Chess anyone?

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Evidently these european regulators have too much time on their hands. Chess anyone?
The logic and strategy of chess might be beyond the scope of the average EU regulator. I suggest something more of a physical diversion. You know, a more "hands on" pastime. Didn't they get the "it won't make you go blind" memo?

cyriene said:

You guys give too much credit to people. Most people don't even know what a 'browser' is:

[link]

That said, I don't really like this ballot screen either. I just install Opera myself and am all set.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

You guys give too much credit to people. Most people don't even know what a 'browser' is:

You're probably right about this. That said, personal computing should require that it be incumbent upon the user to develop a working knowledge of their equipment. Sadly, such is not the case. Even if the "fool proof PC becomes a reality, that will probably require another leap forward in technology, to the inevitable introduction of the, "completely imbecile proof PC"?

Humans have an arrogance about an entitlement to laziness that they apply to their machines, believing that they simply don't have to bother to learn how to operate or care for them, they should just do their bidding. They believe that they're simply too important to learn.

The simple act of choosing a browser may be more decision making capability than many possess, or perhaps choose to possess, so thus enters the need for a cadre of legal parasites to sort out these issues.

A more direct observation might be, if you're going to expect the PC to be quality controlled, then the same should be true for the prospective owner.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I work for an IT company that supports lots of other companys and i'm one of the remote support people (means I sit on the phone and help people in the office) and I have found about 2 people out of the 1000's I talk to a day that actually know what a browser is! most people think the internet IS internet explorer, and the ones who know what a browser is thinks IE is great because they have never known anything different.

Guest said:

I have to agree with the above 100%. And this is a huge problem that this ballot screen actually helps to reduce.

Guest said:

We are living in a democratic world. There is only one winner and the rest are losers in a game. The only way for losers to fight against the winner is to change to rules of game and handicapped the strong one.

Or can we ask Mike tyson to fight a lightweight with one hand or starve him a week before the match?

Guest said:

Will the EU force Apple to provide a ballot screen for their Leopard OS??

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

They should, just because its not as popular doesn't mean they shouldn't get away scot free! the only OS I would say that can get away with coming with one browser are free OS's like Ubuntu because its free. You can't sue something that is free and created by loads of people because there is no one to argue with or sue, but back to the point, Apple should be forced.

Guest said:

Typical responses from the misinformed and intellectually lazy, who can't be bothered to consider anything beyond the first knee-jerk reaction that comes into their head. Competition law (antitrust in the US) is pretty clear on the fact that you're not allowed to use one monopoly to leverage your way into another one - which is exactly what Microsoft have been doing with their OS and browser products for the past 15 years. The EU called them on this (not the first time a governmental body has) and the ballot screen is the solution Microsoft have come up with. That's just basic fact, and if you were able to comprehend that then you'd realise why unoriginal and tiresome anti-EU comments or inane "why does Apple not have to do this too" remarks are totally asinine and missing the point completely.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Typical responses from the misinformed and intellectually lazy, who can't be bothered to consider anything beyond the first knee-jerk reaction that comes into their head. Competition law (antitrust in the US) is pretty clear on the fact that you're not allowed to use one monopoly to leverage your way into another one - which is exactly what Microsoft have been doing with their OS and browser products for the past 15 years.
Well, the old adage is that "laws are made to be broken". I think that's just too trite. The truth is somewhat closer to, "laws are made to be circumvented". See, now isn't that much more civilized.

People really shouldn't be allowed to hide behind the concept that M$ is ramming IE down their throat, and pass the responsibility off to the courts. This goes back to what I said earlier, most people lack the initiative or interest to find out what's beyond IE. As a result of this, s*** happens. Life in general mirrors this silly browser situation , because people turned their heads while s*** happened. Monopolies aren't created, they're allowed to happen, just like dictatorships, genocide, the the holocaust. The people turned their head, and allowed those things to happen. In fact, in many cases, they encouraged it to happen, and assisted with it. Oh please, do have the courts step in to save us from our own laziness and lack of curiosity.

The fact that M$ is a monopoly is a convenience to too many people, and it's abuse is their just deserts

Guest said:

It has nothing to do with that, like I just said in the comment above yours. The ruling isn't even about consumers, it's about competitors - thus why it's called "competition law" rather than "consumer law". I don't think any consumers particularly care about IE being bundled with Windows; Opera, Mozilla, Google, etc. on the other hand do, since it makes it exceedingly harder for them to compete against that sort of advantage. That's exactly the kind of situation these laws are intended to address.

The whole "M$", fanboyism, and that sort of garbage is completely irrelevant.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

First, let's place ourselves on the same page by me saying that I agree with everything you've said here.

It has nothing to do with that, like I just said in the comment above yours. The ruling isn't even about consumers, it's about competitors - thus why it's called "competition law" rather than "consumer law". I don't think any consumers particularly care about IE being bundled with Windows; Opera, Mozilla, Google, etc. on the other hand do, since it makes it exceedingly harder for them to compete against that sort of advantage. That's exactly the kind of situation these laws are intended to address.

Fair enough, but without the educated consumer's active participation in this process, the end result will be, "M$ is as M$ does", and all the consumer base becomes, is the financial sponsor of their legal battles. "As long as all I have to do is, double click my way onto the internet, I don't care how many internet browser organization fail", is pretty much the summation of the average consumer's interest or attention span. Sadly!

I gotta say also, with Google's continuing quest for it's own status as a monoploy, it's really hard to sympathize with them. Each little ad and tracking cookie they inflict on you adds money to their war chest. True enough it's not conflict diamonds, but it's way, way more in your face.

Guest said:

I'd imagine we probably are approaching a mainstream Google backlash in the nearish future, similar to what happened to Microsoft at the height of their own arrogance.

Guest said:

I wonder if Eu would sh...t their pants if Microsoft just said we not gona sell OS to EU no more ??

maybe thats what need to happen!!!!!

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I wonder if Eu would sh...t their pants if Microsoft just said we not gona sell OS to EU no more ??

maybe thats what need to happen!!!!!

Wow, it's M$' press agent. Actually, if M$ got kicked out of Europe, it would force the software houses that wished to continue business there, to write games and whatnot that would run under Linux, Unix, Solaris, and operating systems to be named later. Oh, and let's not forget Mac.

M$ is too greedy, too pushy, and too monomanical to even have a passing thought of pulling out of Europe. They'll just bide their time, and purchase the influence necessary to continue on doing business as they have been.

They need volunteer nitwit cheerleaders to empower their draconian business model. Can I see a show of hands?

As an aside, why not learn how to spell, and perhaps form a sentence, before attempting anything as complicated as a guest post.

Guest said:

Wow, it's M$' press agent. Actually, if M$ got kicked out of Europe, it would force the software houses that wished to continue business there, to write games and whatnot that would run under Linux, Unix, Solaris, and operating systems to be named later. Oh, and let's not forget Mac.

M$ is too greedy, too pushy, and too monomanical to even have a passing thought of pulling out of Europe. They'll just bide their time, and purchase the influence necessary to continue on doing business as they have been.

They need volunteer nitwit cheerleaders to empower their draconian business model. Can I see a show of hands?

As an aside, why not learn how to spell, and perhaps form a sentence, before attempting anything as complicated as a guest post.

So big deal if I miss spell something!!! English not my first language.. Oh wait ,there always gona be one!!

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

At the end of the day if apple was to force all their users to use safari (they already try to) no one complains, Unbuntu tries to force firefox on you, no complains but when microsoft try to force the software you brought! on you, you all get up-in-arms! At the end of the day, when you buy windows it comes with IE therefore you have brought the software and its your own fault that you have IE, ok to be fair you can unistall it and install something different but a lot of people (i'd say 70-80% of people) don't have a clue! not a single piece of know how on what a browser is! so In a way, this is handy that this has happened, it is educating the masses! on the other hand, Microsoft should not be forced to put contenders Browsers on its OS from the off, But if Microsoft really didn't want this to happen, they would have pulled out the european market, but they haven't! so everyone, stop your wining and thinking way to far into this, at the end of the day, this is going to educate people, I work for an IT company and trust me, the day Win7 comes out, i'm going to have a **** load of calls asking what the hell is that pop-up! Its asking to choose browser and for once, I can explain what a browser is and what it does...and they will listen!

Guest said:

Hay I am not a winging Pom/limey my preferred browser is IE and my preferred search engine is Google. Why, because that is what I have chosen, I have tried others but prefer IE as a browser and Google as the search engine. The EEC gets up my nose interfering with my choice and well done Microsoft in offering a solution and hopefully satisfying the bureaucrats . The choice has always been there if you wished a different browser all you had to do was Google it.

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Guest said:

What kind of crap is this? If you dont like the software then dont use it, its that simple. MS should tell Europe to shove it where the sun doesnt shine and make their own OS.

My thoughts exactly... The EU is a bunch of whining, power hungry pansies.

tengeta tengeta said:

It probably won't be approved until it omits IE from the list altogether.

Guest said:

I happen to think that the browser is irrelevant. it's a bit like arguing about who is making the pane of glass for your living room window. Who cares! What matters is the view .

All browsers have reached a stage where they are much of a much-ness. If only they could agree on rendering standards for HTML and CSS that is all that would be required. We're close now and I know IE has been the worst offender for ploughing its own furrow but having used a number of browsers I haven't seen any meaningful differences. The web sites I visit look the same and load the same,

Let's stop branding IE users as lazy too. Perhaps they just don't care. As for comparing Microsoft to the Nazis - you're an *****!

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