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EU regulators slammed that version as giving no real choice to the 5 percent of customers who buy Windows in a stand-alone pack. Most people buy the software pre-installed on a computer assembled by manufacturers such as Dell or HP.

The ballot screen that Microsoft is now proposing is close to what regulators called for in January when they asked Microsoft to offer several browsers on Windows.

It is also backed by Norwegian mobile Internet browser maker Opera Software ASA, which triggered the EU antitrust case by complaining that Microsoft was unfairly using its power as the dominant supplier of operating system software to squeeze out rivals.

Opera lawyer Thomas Vinje welcomed Microsoft’s announcement Friday but said “the devil is in the detail” on how far it would go to calm antitrust fears.

Offering the ballot screen to existing Windows users “will change the world,” he said, because it would encourage developers to make cross-platform software based on Web standards instead of tailoring their work to Microsoft software.

Microsoft says that it fully complies with existing Web standards.

Microsoft said it was also promising to share more interoperability information with developers to help them make software that works with Windows, Windows Server, Office, Exchange and SharePoint.

Smith said this involve “significant change by Microsoft” and was based on long talks with EU regulators. He said they also include enforceable warranty commitments.

“We believe that if ultimately accepted, this proposal will fully address the European competition law issues relating to the inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows and interoperability with our high-volume products,” he said.

On The Net

Microsoft proposal t.m spx

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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