EU accepts Microsoft’s random browser offer, antitrust charges dropped

200px-Flag_of_Europe.svg[EU] The latest battle in the browser wars appears to be over. The European Union has finally cut a deal with Microsoft which will see the company ditching Internet Explorer as the default browser in Windows in return for antitrust charges being dropped.

As of March, users will be given a choice of up to 12 web browsers via a pop-up screen. The sticking point, however, had been the order in which competing browsers would be listed. Microsoft initially argued that it should be done by current market share – a move that would obviously favour Redmond – while smaller players such as Norway-based Opera rightfully pointed out that this would unfairly benefit the status quo, defeating the whole point of the EU’s original antitrust stance. The new arrangement, which has to be in place for the next five years if Microsoft is to avoid an automatic fine, will see the list of browsers on offer being randomized. Although, as we understand it, the big five – IE, Firefox, Apple’s Safari, Google’s Chrome, and Opera – will still be given prominence.

Most interesting is that the new arrangement is retroactive. As from March of next year, along with new copies of Windows, an automatic update will be offered to all existing users. Those running Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 in the EU who have Internet Explorer set as their default browser will be given the new browser picker. Even those that aren’t running IE as their default will be asked if they’d like to switch.