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Microsoft to Bundle Firefox and Chrome with Windows?

In its effort to detangle itself from the ongoing proceedings of the European Union antitrust case, it seems Microsoft is offering to include rival web browsers in the Windows OS. Revealed in a statement by the European Commission, Microsoft offered to give consumers a choice of browser installation through a browser ballot screen. New computer owners running Windows may get a chance to choose their browsers form a variety of software makers.

Upon the EU’s acceptance of the proposal, Microsoft will begin shipping versions of Windows with the ballot screen throughout Europe. The antitrust case first came about after rival browser Opera filed a complaint on the Redmond giant’s bundling of Explorer with Windows. RWW has already covered Microsoft’s attempts to make amends on the case; however, this new agreement will have even larger affects on the industry.

According to Stat Counter, Internet Explorer currently holds the majority market share for browsers at 61%. The next competitor is Firefox with roughly 30% of installs and Opera, Safari and Chrome make up the difference. While non-IE users have had to install their browser of choice, Internet Explorer’s rise to success can be attributed to having been bundled on every Windows PC. With the new multi-browser bundling, competitors will finally reap the rewards of Microsoft’s distribution channels. As new PC’s are purchased, it’s likely that Firefox and Chrome will see a new opportunity to thrive.

Less than tech-savvy users who’ve never questioned IE bundling with Windows may purchase new machines and choose their browser for reasons that have nothing to do with performance or popularity. A user may simply choose to run Opera because they’re a music lover or Chrome because they’re a car enthusiast. While it’s too early to tell how consumer habits will change, if the EU chooses to settle with Microsoft, browser developers will see a major shift in the market place.

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