It's Official: Microsoft To Provide Browser Choice In Europe To Avoid Fines

Who knows if this whole "end of an ordeal" has anything to do with the current season, but it looks like the European Union is in the giving mood. Today, the EU announced that it would be dropping the pending charges against Microsoft regarding its decision to force Internet Explorer upon poor, lost European Windows 7 buyers. If you'll think back, the EU was putting pressure on Microsoft for months to give users a choice when it came to selecting their browser.

After lots of work and a few rejections, it seems the two have finally reached a compromise. The Union will be walking away from the antitrust charges that it was filing after Microsoft agreed to give buyers (in Europe) a choice of up to 12 other browsers. And you better believe that Microsoft is thankful--the EU is the same entity that fined Intel well over $1 billion earlier this year, which the chip maker is still fighting tooth and nail.

So, what does the deal consist of? Under the terms, Microsoft will avoid fined if it provides a pop-up screen that lets its European customers replace IE or add another browser such as Chrome, Safari or Firefox. They don't have to implement the change until March, but the move will enable PC makers in Europe (and even outside of Europe that are shipping into Europe) sell PCs without the iconic Internet Explorer browser.

Of course, it's not all bad. IE has been lagging behind the other guys for quite some time, and even the newest version feels slow and bloated compared to Chrome and Firefox. Still, Microsoft could eventually face more fines if it doesn't stick to this plan for the long haul, and who knows if this decision will lead to similar fates in other nations (like America). The EU argues that this move is one that doesn't block competition and innovation, and we tend to agree. Of course, the first thing we do upon receiving a new PC is to use IE to download Firefox, but it's nice to give people a choice who may otherwise not know about their options.