The European Commission has approved a compromise proposal submitted by Microsoft that would allow users to "turn off" their Internet Explorer browsers.
European Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said the decision would benefit millions of EU consumers by granting them a "free choice" about what browser they use.
"[Our] preliminary view was that competition was distorted by Microsoft tying Internet Explorer to Windows. This was because it offered MS an artificial distribution advantage not related to the merits of its product on more than 90 percent of personal computers," claimed Kroes.
"[However], this decision will not only serve to improve people's experience of the Internet now but also act as an incentive for web browser companies to innovate and offer people better browsers in the future."
According to Kroes, Microsoft has agreed to provide a "choice screen" that would enable Windows users to select which web browser(s) they want to install in addition to, or instead of, Internet Explorer.
"[In addition], the commitments provide that computer manufacturers will be able to install competing web browsers, set those as default and turn IE off," said Kroes.
She added that Microsoft had also pledged help improve product interoperability with non-MS software.
"We believe [this decision] represents the most comprehensive commitment to the promotion of interoperability in the history of the software industry," Microsoft confirmed in a statement. ??
"[We] will ensure that developers throughout the industry, including in the open source community, will have access to technical documentation to assist them in building products that work well with Microsoft products."