A choice cut: Windows Browser Ballot banished from Europe

Go on, back to IE you go

Windows users in Europe will no longer face the now-familiar browser choice screen when installing the operating system for the first time.

In 2009 the European Commission (EC) ruled that Microsoft was unfairly pushing its own Internet Explorer (IE) browser by not giving new users the choice to download an alternative.

Microsoft responded with a browser ballot window that initially offered a choice between IE, Apple Safari, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera. It was refined over the five years to include Chrome, Internet Explorer, FIrefox, Maxthon, Opera, SRWave Iron, Sleipnir, Lunascape, K-Meleon and Comodo's Dragon browser.

An online choice screen that showed the different browsers on offer - formerly accessible at browserchoice.eu - has been replaced with a message that says: "This website was created by Microsoft in accordance with a decision issued by the European Commission in December 2009.

"The obligations imposed by the decision have now expired and Microsoft will no longer maintain this website. Microsoft encourages customers who want more information about web browsers or want to download another browser to do so by visiting the websites of web browser vendors directly. "

Pack it in

Microsoft complied with the ruling over the five year period - mostly. An investigation by European antitrust bodies found that it failed to show the screen to an estimated 15 million Windows users between May 2011 and July 2012.

Microsoft blamed a "technical error" in Windows 7's Service Pack 1 for the snafu, which didn't stop it from being handed a £731 million (around £485m, AUS$712m) fine.