According to a Press release, the EU Commission approved Microsoft’s proposal to facilitate downloading alternative browsers in a Ballot Screen. Today, the Brussels Commission affirmed the software giant’s pledges to be mandatory and thus reconciled a cartel proceeding. Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes announced:
Millions of European consumers will benefit from this decision by having a free choice about which web browser they use. 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.
Over the period of five years, Microsoft is now required to offer a Ballot Screen through Windows Update in Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7, enabling users to download and install a different browser besides or substituting Internet Explorer. OEM companies will also be given the ability to directly and automatically distribute an alternative to Internet Explorer, as part of their OEM installations. An initial offer by Microsoft to list existing web browsers alphabetically had recently raised opposition by competitors. The window will now show the five most-used browsers: Safari, Firefox, Opera, Internet Explorer, and Google Chrome, sorted randomly in a neutral Ballot Screen.
Microsoft Senior Vice President Brian Smith commented:
We believe it represents the most comprehensive commitment to the promotion of interoperability in the history of the software industry. Under this undertaking, Microsoft will ensure that developers throughout the industry, including in the open source community, will have access to technical documentation to assist them in building products that work well with Microsoft products.
The cartel proceeding started after Opera raised its complaint. After an analysis, the EU Commission agreed on the fact that Microsoft is deforming the competition by distributing Internet Explorer to its Windows OS with a market-share of 90 percent. Innovations would suffer and web developers would be forced to develop their programs mainly for Internet Explorer.