Microsoft this weekend revealed that it would drop plans to launch Windows 7 E for Europe following a change in attitude from the European Commission. The special release, which would have provided Windows without any browser at all, is being scrapped as the Commission has tentatively embraced the company's browser ballot approach to providing a choice of web browsers. These customers should now get the same version of Windows 7 as elsewhere.
Elaborating on how the ballot would work, Microsoft deputy general counsel Dave Heiner said that any version of Windows 7 with Internet Explorer as the default browser would at least initially see a ballot website providing them with a choice of browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Safari. Computer users could return to the page at a later date and wouldn't see the page if Windows is already set to a competing browser. XP and Vista should also see the ballot appear retroactively.
The move is meant to head off a looming antitrust case against Microsoft accusing the company of abusing its Windows monopoly to control the web browser market. Microsoft has regularly objected to the position and has been supported by Firefox's roughly 30 percent market share.