Microsoft forced to give IE users option to switch browsers
Microsoft is to give IE users the option to switch to rival browsers, including Firefox, Chrome, Opera or Safari, as part of new competition rules.
The move follows a legal agreement between Microsoft and Europe's Competition Commission in December 2009.
Starting from March 1st, Microsoft will let Windows PC users across Europe install the web browser of their choice, rather than having Microsoft IE as a default.
Figures suggest that over half the world's internet users have IE. Testing for the update is already underway in the UK, Belgium and France.
According to a blog post by Dave Heiner, Microsoft's vice president and deputy general counsel, the software update choice will arrive automatically for Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 customers.
The blog also contains screen grabs of the message as it will appear. "Users who get the choice screen will be free to choose any browser or stick with the browser they have, as they prefer," wrote Mr Heiner.
Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera are the alternative browsers that people will be offered.
Browser choice, much like operating system choice, is often overlooked by many web users, and only really considered by the more technology savvy. Millions of people who have never really thought about which browser to use will now be forced to make a decision, presenting Microsoft's rivals with a unique marketing opportunity.
How many people will actually be bothered to make the switch only time will tell, but Microsoft’s dominant position is certainly under threat.
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