"We welcome today's announcement by the European Commission [EC] to move forward with formal market testing of Microsoft's proposal relating to web browser choice in Europe," said Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith in a statement.
"We also welcome the opportunity to take the next step in the process regarding our proposal to promote interoperability with a broad range of our products."
Smith is referring to Microsoft's proposal to offer a browser ballot selection page to buyers of its operating system. This would mean that hardware manufacturers can install several browsers onto machines and let people make their own choice.
Smith explained that, although there had been some wrangling, an agreement had been reached that would stay in place for five years.
Neelie Kroes, European commissioner for competition, added: "Without choice, competition will die, and without competition, innovation will die. This case is not just about competition today, it is about competition and innovation tomorrow, next month and next year."
As part of the agreement Microsoft is also making technical documentation available to assist developers and third parties that want to build products to work with Microsoft systems, including Windows, Windows Server, Office, Exchange and SharePoint.
"Today is an important day. Although the EC has not made its final decision, today's news is a major step forward and we are hopeful that this will help move us towards closure to the past and the building of a new foundation for the future," said Smith.
However, although Smith welcomed the agreement, others described it as a compromise.
"We are glad that Microsoft and the EC have reached a compromise in which developers are not adversely affected by the removal of code from Windows," said Jonathan Zuck, president of the Association for Competitive Technology.
"This solution addresses the EC's concerns while ensuring that software developers can continue using the underlying Internet Explorer code to build their programmes."