Microsoft’s ballot screen
Microsoft has changed its proposed browser “ballot screen” to wrap up a nine-month antitrust case in the European Union, but rivals remained non-committal today about whether the modifications are enough.
Three months ago, Microsoft told Brussels-based antitrust officials that it would give users a chance to download rivals’ browsers with a “ballot screen,” just one of the moves Microsoft has made since January in an effort to ward off fines or even more drastic measures by the European Commission.
More about Ballot Screen
The Ballot Screen will be populated with the 12 most widely-used web browsers that run on Windows based on usage share in the EEA as measured semi-annually by a source commonly agreed between Microsoft and the European Commission. In addition, if a browser’s usage share is among the top 12, but that browser is no longer actively offered by its vendor, that browser will not be included in the Ballot Screen. If any dispute arises as to the determination of the source, the Commission will provide Microsoft with the source to use.
The Ballot Screen will prominently display the final releases of the five web browsers with the highest usage share in the EEA (i.e. only these browsers will be immediately visible without requiring any user action under typical user settings). These five web browsers will be displayed in alphabetical order of the company names of their vendors. The remaining seven browsers will be displayed according to the same principle.
Browser usage share will be determined semi-annually by averaging monthly usage share data for the previous six months for which such data is available, with shares for different released versions of the same vendor’s browsers added together to determine a browser’s total usage share (e.g., Firefox 2.0, 3.0, 3.5, etc. all count towards the total share for “Mozilla Firefox”).
No more than one browser will be listed per vendor. Other than Internet Explorer, the Ballot Screen may not contain any web browser which is based on Internet Explorer’s rendering engine and the development or distribution of which is funded in whole or in substantial part by Microsoft.
Any web browser vendor selected will be invited to provide Microsoft with two URLs. One URL shall be an “information” URL that will link to a web page that provides relevant information only about such vendor’s browser, together with installation options. The other URL shall be an “install” URL that, at the vendor’s option, will either (a) link to a web page with instructions for installing its browser and a means to initiate a download of its browser, and no additional software, or (b) directly initiate a download of its browser, and no additional software. If any dispute arises as to the application of this paragraph which, despite best efforts, the parties to that dispute cannot resolve themselves within a reasonable period of time, Microsoft may submit the matter to the Commission for determination.
Microsoft gives the following Commitment (the “Commitment”) to address the competition concerns identified by the European Commission in Case No. COMP/C-3/39.530, which are based on the Commission’s interpretation of Article 82 EC and the judgment of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities of 17 September 2007 in Case T-201/04 Microsoft v Commission.