Microsoft unveils final browser ballot page

The ballot page
The ballot page

Microsoft has shown off the process in which users of Windows will be offered a choice of default browsers through its EU sanctioned ballot screen.

Microsoft has adopted the browser ballot screen after an Opera-led complaint led to the European Commission investigating the way in which Internet Explorer was tied into the Windows operating system.

The change will begin to roll-out in the 'next few weeks', with external testing beginning next week in UK, along with Belgium and France.

Testers needed

"Anyone in those countries who wishes to test it can download the browser choice screen software update from Windows Update. We plan to begin a phased roll-out of the update across Europe the week of 1 March," said Dave Heiner, Microsoft's Vice President and Deputy General Counsel.

The ballot page will be an automatic update to all Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP users.

"The software update will be installed automatically, or will prompt you to download or install it, depending on which operating system you are running and your settings for Windows Update," explains Microsoft.

"If you do not have automatic updating enabled, you can get the choice screen by going to Windows Update and clicking on "Check for Updates," it continues.

"If you are running Internet Explorer as your default browser… an introductory screen appears first. The introductory screen provides context for the next screen, which shows browser options.

Microsoft's annotated introductory screen

Leading browsers, randomly assigned

"The browser choice screen will present you with a list of leading browsers," adds Heiner.

"In keeping with our agreement with the European Commission, this list is presented in random order. You can also scroll to the right to see additional browsers, which are also presented in random order.

"The browsers that are listed and the content relating to them will be updated from time to time. The screen provides three options: Click on 'Install' to install one of the listed browsers. Click on 'Tell me more' to get more information about any of the browsers.

These links (and the browser logos and associated text) are provided by each browser vendor.

"Click on 'Select Later' to review the choice screen the next time you log onto your computer. This software update will also add a shortcut to your desktop, from which you can launch the choice screen at any time."

It's a system that has been hammered out over months in Brussels, which you would hope will mean that it will put an end to complaints from all the browser makers…possibly.

Patrick Goss

Patrick Goss is the ex-Editor in Chief of TechRadar. Patrick was a passionate and experienced journalist, and he has been lucky enough to work on some of the finest online properties on the planet, building audiences everywhere and establishing himself at the forefront of digital content.  After a long stint as the boss at TechRadar, Patrick has now moved on to a role with Apple, where he is the Managing Editor for the App Store in the UK.