Microsoft said last Friday that it will begin external testing of a browser ballot screen for European copies of Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 this week. The 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.
Mitchell Baker, Mozilla’s chairman, and chief executive John Lilly both welcomed the changes that Microsoft has made. "It’s an important choice because the Web browser has become one of the most critical and trusted relationships of our modern lives," the pair explained in a joint statement. "We believe that the Browser Choice screen is an important milestone towards helping more people take control of their online lives — and we hope for the conversation to become broader and deeper."
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.
Microsoft said it plans to begin a phased roll-out of the update across Europe the week of March 1. The update will affect as many as 195 million people in 32 European countries.