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Microsoft U-Turn: Windows 7 May Offer Multiple Browsers

Gordon Kelly


Microsoft U-Turn: Windows 7 May Offer Multiple Browsers

I'm just going to say this once Microsoft... TOLD YOU SO!

It seems over the weekend the software giant has had something of a reality check change of heart about its daft decision to strip Internet Explorer from Windows 7 in Europe. The baby + bathwater approach came after the EC told Microsoft it was being anticompetitive by bundling the two together.

So Microsoft ripped IE out, renamed the OS as 'Windows 7 E' only for the EU and cancelled all upgrade options (so IE couldn't be ported between OSes). The solution to getting online? Perhaps bundle a CD at point of sale. Oh and indeed dear.

Back to the present and Microsoft is now proposing a 'Ballot Screen' whereby users would be able to select which browser they wish to install on first use. Any browser with over 0.5 per cent market share will be represented - this means IE, Firefox, Opera, Safari and Chrome at present.

"Under our new proposal, among other things, European consumers who buy a new Windows PC with Internet Explorer set as their default browser would be shown a ‘ballot screen' from which they could, if they wished, easily install competing browsers from the Web," said Microsoft in an official statement. "If this proposal is ultimately accepted, Microsoft will ship Windows in Europe with the full functionality available in the rest of the world."

Interestingly DailyTech has subsequently reported that "The Microsoft proposal is still in the formative stages and may see changes. The EU and Microsoft must agree to the exact balloting scheme, but at this point both parties have agreed in principal to make a balloting screen happen."

So let's just recap what I said at the time of the Windows 7 E announcement in June:

So if an effort to collect Microsoft's dummy and stick it firmly back into its mouth let me present two alternative sane solutions to this mess:

''1.Bundle the major browsers with Windows 7 and give users a choice of which to install. Over time the versions will get old but it matters little given the inevitable Service Packs that will appear and automatic browser update notifications users will receive. This is hardly fantasyland since Microsoft is accustomed to providing third party drivers with Windows, so why not software?

''2. Bundle Internet Explorer but the first time it runs make it load a web page highlighting the other browser options on the market. Since this is a web page the links can be kept up to date with the latest browser versions and market players. The presentation and wording of this page can be set by the European Commission.

Both options should work just fine. Oh and Microsoft, given the millions you waste on a crack legal team to come up with such nonsense as 'Windows 7 E' I'll let you have these little pieces of common sense for free...

That's for listening Microsoft. No charge.


Microsoft Windows 7 E EC Proposal

via DailyTech


July 27, 2009, 8:34 am

Gordon, get over it please! You only missed out the "ner, ner, na, ner, ner".

Anyway, I still don't get what the issue is here and not sure how this solution really helps. Those who even know what a browser is simply download and install the browser(s) of their choice anyway. The rest will be completely lost faced with a screen asking them do you want Safari, Chrome, Opera, Firefox..... Am I signing up for a holiday? a night out? some chavy bits for my car or some dodgy dvd of an old Clint Eastwood film. Oh well, PC World will make a killing. Thanks EU for making all our lives so much better! {removes tongue from cheek}


July 27, 2009, 8:56 am

@Steve32 - good point. I'll go add that now ;)

PS - with the old system you'd need to use another computer to download your choice of browser first. Just a needless faff. Id consumers are that confused by the ballot menu they'll just select Internet Explorer (and deserve what they get!)

Stewart Clark

July 27, 2009, 12:44 pm

Does this finally mean that we do not need IE to access certain parts of the Microsoft website? Can we now run Microsoft update from Firefox? If this is the can then I can finally dump IE. If we still need IE to to these things then what the hell is the point?


July 27, 2009, 1:18 pm

To my mind, this was always a negotiating stance by M$, and to show the EC that they should think before they act.

If so, I would say it achieved its purpose.


July 27, 2009, 3:26 pm

I agree with Henryg.

Its all just one big tantrum :)


July 27, 2009, 3:31 pm

Windows Update runs without a browser, you need to stop using XP :)


July 27, 2009, 4:17 pm

Another case of Gordon grossly overestimating himself. It was patently clear from the start, as others have said, that the initial position was a negotiating stance. It didn't take the mind of a TR news guy to reach that conclusion.


July 27, 2009, 4:59 pm

*watches gordon's ego towering over the new york city skyline*



July 27, 2009, 5:21 pm

"If this proposal is ultimately accepted, Microsoft will ship Windows in Europe with the full functionality available in the rest of the world."

Does this also mean - coz this was the sticking point for me - that as in the rest of the world, we will be able to UPGRADE rather than be forced to do a clean install?


July 27, 2009, 5:34 pm


Here's one of my comments from a couple weeks back:

"As much as people berate Microsoft (often rightly so), they're not idiots. I can't imagine that they'll supply an OS without some means of downloading a web browser. I couldn't tell you what their solution is (even Microsoft might not know yet), but I think they will make it very simple for the user."

Thing is, this was pretty obvious. MS were never going to shoot themselves in the food by effectively destroying their entire 'casual user upgrade' market. That said, I'm glad they're going with (Gordon's) 'pick your browser' option, it makes so much more sense.


July 27, 2009, 7:10 pm

Ackshuly, there's another option

As you must've already noticed, MS uses it's HTML engine for lots of stuff, including HTML help (just try running "hh.exe http://www.google.com"). So it can be made so that on the first login, hh.exe (or some dedicated application named "Download the latest browser of your choice") pops out opening something like "http://www.microsoft.com/li... and users get their files downloaded.


July 27, 2009, 7:41 pm

Remember Billy G saying something elong the lines of this being like asking Coke to bundle a few cans of Pepsi with each case they sell.


July 27, 2009, 8:06 pm

@Saltank - I rather doubt the latest browser versions will be hosted on Windows Update! (I use Windows 7 ;)

@Marko - thanks for the feedback. I'd point out the difference between confidence in hindsight and stepping up at the time...

TR news guy


July 27, 2009, 8:08 pm

@Chris - you're spot on. Hopefully common sense will now prevail. Even if it does mean some last minute coding changes.


July 27, 2009, 8:53 pm

I'm not sure the mockup image will be particulaly accurate. First the inclusion rule will presumably be any browser that has at least 0.5% in any EU country (hopefully on a selection of leading websites) so it'll include more than just those 5.

Secondly, Microsoft will presumably allow the companies to include descriptive text and screenshots so the users have an idea of the differences.

Of course, it'll probably be a webpage rather than a dialogue so that everyone sees the latest options instead of four year old discs ending up with choices that no longer exist.

Mikey uk

July 27, 2009, 9:31 pm

So.... for those of use who have pre-ordered Win 7E with our fingers firmly crossed that common sense will prevail between now and October .... I await with interest to know what MS will actually be shipping us in October... upgrade capable or not.


July 27, 2009, 10:55 pm

@Xiphias: The screen shot is a cheap knock-off that's only there to provide some colourful eye-candy between the blocks of text. Don't worry, I'm sure the final version will be far more sensible ;)

@Mikey_uk: I'm hoping that 7E will be upgrade capable now. The EU legislation is designed to limit the spread of IE when bundled with Windows. If that were to cause sales of Windows 7 to be affected (as not being upgrade capable would) then Microsoft would have grounds for complaint. In fact, I wouldn't be suprised if they used that as a bargaining chip to get this deal...


July 31, 2009, 5:12 pm

I still dont see why they should have to do it, no one else has to. Seems like anti-MS BS to me.

Dont see why it should be one rule for them and one rule for everyone else.

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