Microsoft plans to roll out test version of browser ballot screen next week

Microsoft said on Friday that it will begin external testing of a browser ballot screen for European copies of Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 next week.

In July 2009, Microsoft proposed a ballot screen to allow users to pick their default browser in Windows XP, Vista and 7. The European Commission accepted Microsoft's plans in December 2009 after the software giant agreed to randomize the ballot screen due to several complaints from rival software companies. The agreement marked the end of the "browser wars" after Opera originally filed a complaint with the EU in 2007. The European Union originally accused Microsoft of anti-trust violations back in January 2009.

External testing of the browser ballot screen will begin next week in three countries: the United Kingdom, Belgium and France. Users wanting to test the new prompt will be able to download the software update from Windows Update.

The browser ballot screen software update will be offered as an automatic download through Windows Update for Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 users. Users who currently have Internet Explorer selected as the default browser will see an introductory screen providing them with information about the update. If Internet Explorer was “pinned” to the Windows 7 taskbar, the browser choice screen software update will automatically unpin it as shown below.

Microsoft said it plans to begin a phased roll-out of the update across Europe the week of March 1.

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