Microsoft will add browser choice screen to Windows 8 to avoid EU rage

Back in July it was revealed that Microsoft is being investigated by European Regulators for failing to provide users with the now-famous ‘browser choice’ screen in Windows 8. Apparently Microsoft doesn’t want to go toe-to-toe with the EU because news is coming in that they have caved into European demands.

Reuters is quoting European Commissioner Joaquin Almunia as stating Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has pledged to add the browser choice screen to Windows 8:

In my personal talks with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer he has given me assurances that they will comply immediately regardless of the conclusion of the anti trust probe.

Aside from just adding the browser choice screen, Microsoft has promised to eliminate any obstacles that may prevent the installation of third-party browsers, such as Firefox or Chrome, on Windows 8.

For those that aren’t familiar with the topic at hand, the browser choice screen is a prompt European consumers see with upon the installation of Windows. This screen allows Europeans the ability to select a browser other than Internet Explorer as the default browser. This browser choice screen is part of an anti-trust agreement Microsoft signed with the EU three years ago; Microsoft does not show, nor does it have to show, the screen to anyone outside the European Union.

It isn’t entirely clear if Microsoft will be adding the browser choice screen on only the desktop/laptop versions of Windows 8 or on Windows RT, too. I imagine Microsoft will try to argue that Windows RT is not part of the agreement that Microsoft signed with the EU three years ago (because of how Windows RT is a tablet operating system and Microsoft has no monopoly on tablets). Only time will tell who will buckle on the Windows RT issue, Microsoft or the EU. For now, however, it seems like the EU has won.

[via Reuters]

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  • Mike

    @Ashraf: Candidly, my mother, learning about computers, would not choose and then install a new browser by herself–she would just live with whatever is the default. But depending on what is on the browser choice screen, I could see her being able to choose between alternatives.

    Of course, you are right–how would she choose? And of course, by calling me up and asking, which one should I choose? . . . .

  • Ashraf

    @Mike: I’m mostly on Microsoft’s side when it comes to browser selection screen. Think about it this way. Anyone that knows enough about browsers to make an informed decision at the browser select screen will likely go ahead and download a third party browser anyway if they want one. So the browser select screen only helps those that don’t know about other browsers, in which case how can they make an informed decision?

  • Mike

    On one hand, I intellectually understand the purpose of and need for the browser choice screen–many users just can’t be left alone to choose and install a browser themselves, I guess. On the other hand, it just seems like EU regulator whining, and seems to reveal their impotence as people put out to govern and do real things . . . .