Microsoft to offer other internet browsers -

Microsoft is planning to ask its Windows users across Europe what browser they would prefer to Internet Explorer.

The poll, which launches today, is the result of Microsoft’s anti-trust battle with the European Commission.

Although only Windows XP, Vista and 7 users will be asked, this is seen as a step towards Microsoft relinquishing some of its stranglehold on the market, and allowing other providers in.

Of these Windows users, the ones still using IE will be prompted with a pop-up window, which will appear as part of the Windows updating checker. Users with this switched off are encouraged to perform a manual search for updates, which will prompt the pop up.

This will offer, through two pages, to install one of 12 different browsers or let users stick with Microsoft's IE. The browsers on offer on the first menu include Apple’s Safari, Modzilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome.

Browsers on the second menu page are a little more obscure to the average Windows user, offering Sleipnir, Green Browser, Maxthon, Avant, Flock, K-meleon, and Slim. These will be ordered randomly to avoid promotion of any particular one.

Those choosing to stick with Internet Explorer will be rewarded with an upgrade.

According to the BBC, web stats firm Net Applications said IE is used by 62 per cent market share. Its closest rival is Firefox at 24 per cent.

Although Google might see this as an excellent opportunity to push its recently launched Google Chrome Browser, it still has its own anti-trust problems with the EC over its search rankings.