Opera to Microsoft: Offer 'ballot screen' beyond Europe

Opera Software, the web browser manufacturer which sparked the EU's antitrust investigation against Microsoft, has revealed it wants the firm to offer its browser 'ballot screen' to web users worldwide.

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Opera Software, the web browser manufacturer which sparked the EU's antitrust investigation against Microsoft, has revealed it wants the firm to offer its browser 'ballot screen' to web users worldwide.

Last week, Microsoft published proposals to settle its outstanding antitrust issues with the European Union. Microsoft revealed it planned to include a "ballot screen" that would appear on Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 desktops where Internet Explorer (IE) was the default browser

, if the proposal is approved by European antitrust regulators.

EU antitrust officials had been pushing for such a screen - which will provide download and informational links to at least four, and as many as nine, IE rivals - as a way for Microsoft to avoid massive fines. Until last week, Microsoft had resisted adding a ballot to Windows.

"We're very happy with Microsoft's proposal," said Hakon Wium Lie, Opera's chief technology officer.

"A browser ballot screen was one of the key issues, and Microsoft's move is unprecedented."

At the same time, however, Lie cautioned that Opera needs to review Microsoft's specific proposals - which the company published Friday (download Word document) - before sending its comments to European antitrust regulators.

"We're studying them now, and we think they can be improved further, but it's too early to give out that list," said Lie.

One area under Opera's microscope is the limitation of the proposal to the European Union market. "There are some things we want clarification on, and this is one," Lie said.

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