Microsoft is to set to ask millions of Europeans if they wish to use a browser other than Internet Explorer this week, as part of a deal with the European Commission.

A pop-up window will prompt users to choose one of 12 different browsers or simply stick with Microsoft's own Internet Explorer.

The browser choice software will be delivered to users of Windows XP, Vista or 7 as part of Windows Update system this week, although users of non-IE browsers such as Opera, Safari, Chrome or Firefox will not see it.

An important choice

The software will give the user the prompt: "An important choice to make: your browser" leading to a screen with the list of the 12 web browsers available, with Opera, Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Internet Explorer randomly ordered on the first section.

Seven lesser-known browsers - Sleipnir, Green Browser, Maxthon, Avant, Flock, K-meleon, and Slim - are randomly ordered on the rest of the screen.

Each listing contains a small amount of information on the browser in question and a download button.

The choice screen will keep appearing until a user has selected their preferred browser. Anyone wanting to stick with IE will be prompted to upgrade to Internet Explorer 8.

Net Applications currently claims that Microsoft IE is used by around 62 per cent of web users worldwide, followed by Firefox which has a 24 per cent market share.