EU formally approves Microsoft's browser plan

Browser ballot

The European Commission has made Microsoft's browser ballot scheme law.

Following anti-competition charges to do with the bundling of Internet Explorer with its Windows operating system, Microsoft must advertise rival browsers to its own customers across Europe for the next five years.

This will be done using a using a "choice screen", also known as a browser ballot, that shows the different options available - such as Opera, Chrome or Firefox - and where to download them.

The rule also lets manufacturers install the browser of their choice as default on machines running Windows.

Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said in a statement: "Such choice will not only serve to improve people's experience of the internet now but also act as an incentive for web browser companies to innovate and offer people better browsers in the future."

Rival browser maker Opera agreed that customers are the winners in the decision. "This is a victory for the future of the web. This decision is also a celebration of open web standards, as these shared guidelines are the necessary ingredients for innovation on the web," added chief executive Jon von Tetzchner in a statement.


The commission noted that Microsoft would also be filing new plans later today to boost interoperability.

"The Commission welcomes this initiative to improve interoperability," it said. "Even though it remains informal vis--vis the Commission, Microsoft's public undertaking offers assurances to third parties that can be privately enforced."

"The Commission will carefully monitor the impact of this undertaking on the market and take its findings into account in the pending antitrust investigation regarding interoperability," it added.