The European Commission has accepted Microsoft's ballot box proposal and dropped the browser antitrust charges against the software giant. Windows XP, Vista and 7 users who have set Internet Explorer as the default browser will very soon receive a Windows update that will present them with a ballot screen with a choice of alternative browsers.
The Choice Screen will list the 12 most prominently used Windows browsers, with the five most popular browsers listed on top. Every six months, marketshare statistics will be monitored to determine whether the division between the top 5 and the "others" should be adjusted, and the position of each browser within both areas will be randomized.
In an apparent compromise, the Choice Screen will give users the complete list of the 12 most prominently used Windows browsers: Apple Safari, Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, AOL Explorer, Maxthon, K-Meleon, Flock, Avant Browser, Sleipnir, and Slim Browser. The appearances of AOL Explorer, Maxthon, Avant Browser, and Slim Browser in this list are notable because they all utilize IE's Trident layout engine. K-Meleon and Flock utilize Mozilla's Gekko layout engine, while Sleipnir (from Japan) can be set to use either Trident or Gekko.
Those browsers that utilize other manufacturers' engines, however, will not be listed prominently. In a key endorsement of Microsoft's October design, Safari, Chrome, Opera, Firefox, and IE will each get a vertical strip in the center of the screen. But their positions within that area will be randomized, so IE doesn't always get the slot on the left by virtue of market position, and Safari doesn't always get that slot by virtue of its manufacturer beginning with "A." The other seven browsers will only be visible when the user scrolls the list sideways.