Microsoft yesterday announced that it would start offering a browser ballot screen to some European users next week and plans to begin pushing the ballot to all Windows users in Europe the week of March 1.

The ballot screen, which will be provided via Windows Update, was mandated by an agreement Microsoft reached last year with antitrust regulators in the European Commission. After Norwegian browser maker Opera Software complained to the commission, officials there accused Microsoft of using its operating system market dominance to shield Internet Explorer from real competition.

To seal the deal, Microsoft agreed to provide a screen to European Windows users running IE that displays the top five browsers -- IE, Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari -- and asks customers to choose which to install as their default.

According to last year's agreement, Microsoft had to offer the ballot no later than March 17 and wrap up the updating process by mid-May.

Full story: Computerworld