EU accepts Microsoft's commitments to offer browser choice

Microsoft's offer to provide Windows users with a browser choice screen satisfies EU antitrust authorities

Microsoft's promise to allow Windows users to choose which Internet browser they use has been accepted by the European Commission, ending its antitrust investigation of the company's position in the browser market.

The company will offer users of Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 a choice screen through which they can pick the browsers they want to install on their PC. The screen will be offered to users in the European Union and some neighboring countries for the next five years via the Windows Update mechanism. In addition, PC manufacturers will be allowed to ship computers with competing Web browsers, as well as or instead of Internet Explorer.

To eliminate bias, the choice screen is presented as a neutral window, not a full Internet Explorer window as Microsoft initially proposed, and the browsers are presented in random, rather than alphabetical, order.

The five most popular browsers -- initially Apple Safari, Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Opera -- will be displayed first, while users will be able to scroll the list to pick from seven others, initially AOL, Maxthon, K-Meleon, Flock, Avant Browser, Sleipnir and Slim Browser. The list will be reviewed every six months.

The Commission informed Microsoft of its objections to the company's practice of tying Internet Explorer to its Windows operating systems on Jan. 15. By exploiting its dominant position in the operating system market, Microsoft prevented other software browsers from competing on their merits. The new choice screen will enable such competition, the Commission said Wednesday.

"We hope this closes a long chapter in a sometimes uneasy relationship with the Commission, and we hope it opens a new one," Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said at a news conference in Brussels.

Now that the Commission has accepted Microsoft's proposal, it becomes legally binding. If Microsoft fails to deliver, it could face a fine of up to 10 percent of its worldwide turnover, under E.U. antitrust law. The Commission will review the situation regularly to ensure that the choice screen is achieving the desired result, and may require Microsoft to make changes, it said.

Microsoft has also made some concessions on another complaint filed with the Commission, regarding the information it provides to third-party software developers to enable them to develop products interoperable with those of Microsoft. Without such information, it is difficult for other companies to develop software that collaborates with, or competes with, Microsoft products such as Office or SharePoint.

The Commission has not yet sent a statement of objections, or formal accusation, to Microsoft regarding the interoperability complaint, so the legal process has not begun, and Microsoft's concessions on this point are not legally binding.

Kroes hopes to make a decision "as early in 2010 as possible" either to drop that case or to file a statement of objections, she said Wednesday.

(With additional reporting by Paul Meller in Brussels.)

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Microsofteuropean unionweb browsersantitrust

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?