Today, the European Commission (EC) announced that Microsoft will permit Windows 7 users in European countries to select their default browser from a ballot screen when they configure their machines.
The news comes as a bit of a surprise, because, last month, the company said it was going to strip Internet Explorer from European versions of the operating system, and was originally strongly opposed to idea of providing a ballot screen.
Microsoft was compelled to make the change as a remedy for the EC’s Microsoft vs. Opera antitrust case that began in 2007. The company had a contingency plan to ship Windows 7 in January if it was unable to reach an agreement with the EC.
The settlement will no doubt keep Windows 7 on schedule for its fall debut. Windows 7 was released to manufacturing on Wednesday.
The EC has clearly learned from the failure of previous mandates. There was no demand for the Windows Media Center free edition of the OS that the EC mandated Microsoft sell in Europe. I’m glad that the ballot option was chosen over no browser at all.