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.