In what is definitely a first, Microsoft's Windows 7 will offer European customers a ballot screen that offers to download alternative browsers and lets users turn off Internet Explorer, the New York Times reports.
The E.U. was as enthusiastic as the bureaucracy is capable of being, gushing in a statement:
The proposal recognises the principle that consumers should be given a free and effective choice of web browser, and sets out a means – the ballot screen - by which Microsoft believes that can be achieved. In addition OEMs would be able to install competing web browsers, set those as default and disable Internet Explorer should they so wish. The Commission welcomes this proposal, and will now investigate its practical effectiveness in terms of ensuring genuine consumer choice.
Mozilla CEO John Lilly conceded that it is a "good development" but is reserving judgment to see the details, including which browsers, what terms, and whether other browsers would be updated via Windows Update.
While this only impacts Europe - and only if the EU approves - Microsoft also makes some vague claims that competitors will be able to take advantage of information to be released that will let products work smoothly with Windows 7.