In an effort to appease the European Commission, and keep IE on new copies of Windows in Europe, Microsoft has offered to provide multiple browsers alongside Internet Explorer 8 when it ships Windows 7 on 22 October.

Previously, Microsoft had said it would ship Windows 7 without a web browser in Europe.

As we pointed out at the time, this move would potentially leave owners of new PCs with no means to surf the internet - even to download Internet Explorer.

After all, how do you get a browser without a browser?

But now the EC says that "Microsoft has proposed a consumer ballot screen as a solution to the pending antitrust case about the tying of Microsoft Internet Explorer web browser with Windows."

This ballot screen means that buyers who install Windows 7 will see a screen that offers them a choice of pre-installed web browsers.

In addition, PC makers can install competing web browsers, set any of them as default and disable Internet Explorer if they wish, says the EC.

"The proposal recognises the principle that consumers should be given a free and effective choice of web browser, and sets out a means – the ballot screen - by which Microsoft believes that can be achieved," the European Commission stated.

The EC said that it "welcomes this proposal, and will now investigate its practical effectiveness in terms of ensuring genuine consumer choice."

Microsoft has responded to explain that "PC manufacturers building machines for the European market will continue to be required to ship E versions of Windows 7 until such time that the Commission fully reviews our proposals and determines whether they satisfy our obligations under European law."

If accepted, this proposal "would be good news for European consumers and our partners in the industry," says Microsoft.