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Millions in Europe To Get Browser 'Choice Screen'

Microsoft will start providing a browser "choice screen" to Windows users in Europe this week.

More than 100 million PC users in Europe could end up receiving the browser choice screen, starting from its rollout this week to mid-May, according to a statement from the European Commission (EC).

The choice screen was initiated as a legal remedy to address a "Statement of Objections" issued by the EC last year. The EC reacted to Microsoft's use of its Windows monopoly to distribute Internet Explorer, squeezing out competing browsers.

A Microsoft spokesperson stated by e-mail that Microsoft was complying with the EC's decision and had delivered the choice screen "ahead of the agreed deadline." It will be accessible to European Windows users as part of an automatic download through Windows Update.  Users of Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 in Europe will get the choice screen.

The EC made the agreement with Microsoft legally binding in December, noting that providing a choice of browsers to consumers will add more competition and innovation and help further the development of the Internet.

Microsoft sent out a test version of the choice screen last month. The screen presents a scrolling list of browsers, in randomized order, for the user to select and install. According to the agreement with the EC, computer manufacturers for the European market can now choose to install browsers on new PCs that compete with Internet Explorer without retaliation from Microsoft.

The choice screen could shake up browser-market statistics, at least in Europe. Worldwide, IE 8 currently is the most popular browser in use, with a 22.6 percent market share, according to Net Applications. Other popular browsers include Mozilla Firefox 3.5 (14.5 percent), Google Chrome 4.0 (4.8 percent) and Apple Safari 4.0 (3.5 percent).

More than 19 percent of users are still using the much maligned IE 6 browser. Google pulled its support for IE 6 last month. Microsoft also dismisses IE 6, recommending that users upgrade to the latest version of its browser.

About the Author

Herb Torrens is an award-winning freelance writer based in Southern California. He managed the MCSP program for a leading computer telephony integrator for more than five years and has worked with numerous solution providers including HP/Compaq, Nortel, and Microsoft in all forms of media.

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