EU approves new browser ballot for Windows 7

New ballot satisfies EU that users will be offered a fair choice among competing browsers.

Microsoft has finally come up with a browser ballot screen the European Union likes, according to news reports. The EU was not going to approve Windows 7 without a way for users to choose a browser other than Internet Explorer. Microsoft had taken a first pass at a browser ballot, but the EU didn't like that one. Now, in the second go-round, Redmond has come up with something that passes muster.

"The Commissions' concern has been that PC users should have an effective and unbiased choice between Internet Explorer and competing Web browsers to ensure competition on the merits and to allow consumers to benefit from technical developments and innovation both on the Web browser market an on related markets, such a Web-based applications," EU officials said in a statement.

My colleague Mary Jo Foley has a screen shot of the new ballot and some good info on what has changed.

The new ballot allows browsers to be easily downloaded from the ballot screen; doesn't favor any one browser -- not even IE -- over another; includes a little introduction to each browser; and presents browser choices alphabetically.

If this is really the end of Microsoft's long browser battle in Europe, the company can breathe a sigh of relief. General Counsel Brad Smith certainly seemed to be doing so with his statement:

We welcome today's announcement by the European Commission to move forward with formal market testing of Microsoft's proposal relating to Web browser choice in Europe. Today's decision is a significant step toward closing a decade-long chapter of competition law concerns in Europe.