Microsoft has answered concerns regarding how you can get a web browser installed on Windows 7 'E' edition, which, of course, doesn't even have a web browser with which to download one – a “ballot screen
” of browsers.
As reported over on BetaNews
, Microsoft – which is being forced by the European Commission to unbundle Internet Explorer from all versions of Windows 7 sold in the EU under anti-monopoly laws – has confirmed that it is proposing a screen allowing users to choose from a list of web browsers when the OS is first run.
In a public statement given by the company's general counsel Brad Smith, the proposal was described as being the only real option to ship “Windows in Europe with the full functionality available in the rest of the world.
The EC has issued its own statement, confirming that Microsoft's plans mean that “Windows 7 would include Internet Explorer, but the proposal recognises the principle that consumers should be given a free and effective choice of Web browsers, and sets out a means – the ballot screen – by which Microsoft believes that can be achieved.
Perhaps most interesting is the fact that the proposal will relax also previously stringent restrictions on OEMs pre-loading browsers – under the terms of the proposal, OEMs are free both to install an alternative browser of their choice and to set it as the default, disabling Internet Explorer before the machine ever reaches its end user.
While the European Commission has yet to decide on whether Microsoft's plans should be approved, those who have cause to dislike Internet Explorer – and who wish to see it unbundled from Windows – have further fuel for the fires with the news that a critical security flaw in the browser has been classified as so important that the company is breaking
with its traditional monthly patch cycle in order to release a fix. The patch, which affects both Internet Explorer and a less serious hole in Visual Studio, is due for release tomorrow.
Does the ballot screen answer your concerns regarding the bootstrapping of a web browser on a brand-new machine, or will it just further marginalise the smaller browser companies that inevitably don't get included? Share your thoughts over in the forums.