According to a report from CNET's Lance Whitney, the European Union has resolved its Internet Explorer antitrust case against Microsoft and it appears Microsoft will be giving Windows users (at least European ones) an Internet browser buffet. Whitney wrote,
"As part of the settlement, Windows PCs sold in the European Economic Area will now present users with a Choice Screen, allowing them to install alternative browsers beyond Internet Explorer.
The Choice Screen will offer users the ability to install up to 12 of the most widely used Web browsers that run under Windows, including Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome, and Opera. Users can download as many of the browsers as they wish or stick with Internet Explorer. Additionally, computer makers and users in Europe will be able to turn off IE totally and set up other browsers as the default. As part of the settlement, Microsoft is also prohibited from preventing the choice of different browsers through any contractual or technical means."
While not the best solution for Microsoft, which undoubtedly wants to promote its own Web browser above its competitors, this is a real win for users. I'm not against Microsoft or IE in any way, but I am for choice. I don't want my operating system to restrict me from installing (or uninstalling) an application or to "push" me in a specific direction. (Of course nearly every company does this with their products. Promoting your competitors isn't usually a smart business decision.)
Users not in European Economic Area left out
In a statement about the EU decision, Microsoft wrote:
"It [the browser choice screen] will be provided both to users of new computers and to the installed base of Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 computers in Europe where Internet Explorer is set as the default browser."
So my question is this -- If the browser Choice Screen is good enough for European users, what about the rest of us? I want the ability to choose which browser I want during the Windows install. I want the ability to totally turn off IE. Sure, I can already install another browser and set it as the default, but wouldn't the Choice Screen be an easier option?
How to sign the petition
If you're like me and you would like Microsoft to give every Windows user the Choice Screen, you can sign the petition virtually by responding to the discussion thread of this article. Click "Post a Reply" with "Yes" as the title and your name as the body of the message.
Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.