Microsoft revealed on Friday that it will be dropping Windows 7 E altogether and will instead choose to get a ballot screen update for customers who purchase Windows 7 in the European Economic Area.
Dave Heiner, Microsoft's Vice president and Deputy General counsel, said that this approach would address the EC's concerns about Internet Explorer being included by default in its forthcoming operating system.
Microsoft even managed to register a domain name - browserballot.eu - and came up with a mock ballot screen that should appear during the initial stage of the installation. This, Microsoft hopes, will be approved by the EC.
Writing on Microsoft's Legal and policy issues blog, Heiner said that Microsoft will "ship the same version of Windows 7 in Europe in October that we will ship in the rest of the world."
Microsoft originally rejected the EC's call for a ballot screen to be included in the initial installation of Windows 7 but it looks that the whole process would have made customers' decision process fraught with complexity.
Windows Vista users for example cannot upgrade directly (i.e. from within their existing operating system) to Windows 7 and some, like the Windows Family pack, may not be available in Europe if Windows 7 E went ahead.
Even though it might not seems like it, Microsoft could well have turned an embarrassing (and costly) situation into one to its advantage. Internet Explorer WILL be included in Windows 7 by default worldwide. The only real difference this time is that the EU version will come with a different default homepage.
Since Microsoft will own the website where the links to the other browsers will be hosted, they will be in a position to track exactly what Windows 7 users downloading and what browser they will be using, almost in real time. This also means that Microsoft could eventually fine tune its browser strategy.