REDMOND, Wash. (


) --


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is close to settling its antitrust case after the European Union indicated it would accept a settlement proposal outlined by the software giant, a report says.

This would result in an end to nearly a decade-long tussle between Microsoft and the regulator regarding antitrust charges over the Internet Explorer Web browser. The proposal includes a move to give PC users a choice of Web browsers.

The acceptance of the proposal largely depends on a market test which will be carried out by the EU in which Windows users in Europe will get a ballot screen allowing them to choose a browser other than Internet Explorer. The ballot screen option would help to increase market share of rival browsers such as




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Chrome and

Opera Software's

browser, the



The closure of the case would be a happy milestone for Microsoft as it has already been fined more than $2 billion by the European antitrust regulator. The only unresolved matters are a court appeal of part of the fine and also an early-stage investigation of whether Microsoft impedes competition by withholding information that rival software developers need to work with its monopoly products.

Neelie Kroes, the EU's antitrust chief, said that she is very hopeful of closing the case by the end of the year. She said the new proposal will give users a choice between Internet Explorer and other competing Web browsers and that is exactly what the EU was looking for.

This article was written by a staff member of