A web designer has slammed the choice of browsers in Microsoft's choice screen, claiming they are identical to Internet Explorer.

The 'web browser' choice screen' is part of a proposal by the software developer to help settle the EU's antitrust investigation, which was sparked by a complaint filed by Norwegian browser developer Opera in December 2007.

The screen, which offers 12 different browsers, such as Firefox, Google Chrome and Opera, along with less well-known browsers such as Sleipnir, Green Browser, Maxthon, Avant and Flock, has been rolled out to Windows PCs that use IE as the default browser this week via Windows Update system, which is used to distribute security patches.

However, designer Richard Quick revealed that after trying some of the lesser-known browsers, he discovered Avant, Maxthon, Slim and Green Browser use the Trident rendering engine, which is also used by IE.

Quick said Sleipnir can use either Trident or the Gecko rendering engine found in Mozilla Firefox and two of the other browsers, while WebKit - the rendering engine from Apple's Safari - is used by two of the browser choices and one uses Opera's Presto.

Quick says this means almost half of the browsers in the choice screen are IE or very similar.

He told the BBC: "If you choose IE you will get pages rendered the IE way," he said. "But if you choose these browsers you will get the pages rendered the IE way too".

Quick has informed the European Commission of his findings.

Microsoft would not comment on Quick's findings but said the browser choice screen contained the 12 most widely used browsers that run on Windows 7 measured by a methodology agreed with the European Commission

See also: Browsers in Microsoft choice screen not in a random order