Office 2010 to Get a Ballot Screen Just Like Windows 7
Article by George Norman
On 07 Aug 2009
Microsoft, in a move to please antitrust regulators in the European Union, initially announced that Windows 7 would be delivered in Europe without Internet Explorer (IE); then changed its mind and said it would deliver Windows 7 with IE and that the user would be presented with a ballot box informing the user that he can install other browsers as well; then changed its mind again and announced that it will do business as usual in Europe and that the ballot screen may be implemented only if the European Commission agrees to it and the user will get a ballot screen via the internet.

Microsoft is now taking all this ballot business and porting it to the upcoming Office 2010 productivity suite. In the IE case understanding how the ballot screen works is quite simple: you are prompted that there are other browsers out there that you can get for free and you are asked whether you would like to download, install and use any of them as opposed to using Internet Explorer. In the case of the Office 2010 productivity suite, you are not asked whether you would like to use Open Office or anything like that – you are asked what file format you want to use.


Here is what Microsoft’s ballot box proposal says: “Beginning with the release of Office [2010], end users that purchase Microsoft’s Primary PC Productivity Applications in the EEA [European Economic Area] in both the OEM and retail channel will be prompted in an unbiased way to select default file format (from options that include ODF) for those applications upon the first boot of any one of them.” You can download and read the entire proposal here (.DOC warning).

If the European Commission agrees to Microsoft’s proposal, then the Office ballot box will be implemented starting with Office 2010 and will remain in effect for the next 10 years (much like the Microsoft Yahoo! search deal ).

Additional details on this ballot box are not available at this time. We have no idea how the ballot box will look like, how it will try to get the average user to understand the difference between .DOC, .DOCX, .ODF and so on, and we have no idea what file formats the ballot box will include.

Tags: Microsoft, Office 2010, Ballot box, EU, European Union
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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