EU to Microsoft: IE browser selection error violated antitrust deal

Microsoft logoThe European Union has charged Microsoft with an antitrust violation, saying that it did not live up to the terms of its 2009 deal with the 27-nation bloc.

Joaquín Almunia, the European Union antitrust commissioner, told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday that the American software giant has not taken adequate steps to abide by a previous agreement that enables Windows users to choose which Internet browser to use, rather than automatically defaulting to Internet Explorer.

As we reported last month, earlier this year, some discovered that Windows 7 users running Service Pack 1 were not offered a browser ballotmandated as part of the 2009 settlementdue to what the company called a "technical error." In the wake of this discovery, the European Commission launched an antitrust investigation, which has now culminated in new violations.

We take this matter very seriously and moved quickly to address this problem as soon as we became aware of it, Microsoft said in a statement sent to the media.

Although this was the result of a technical error, we take responsibility for what happened, and we are strengthening our internal procedures to help ensure something like this cannot happen again.

Microsoft began rolling out a ballot application to Windows 8 users on September 4 to make sure that the browser ballot is present in the latest version of Windows. That still may not be enough for the EUs top competition watchdog.

We have raised issues with Microsoft relating to Windows 8, Almunia told reporters in Brussels. If a user decides to set a rival browser as a default browser, there should not be an unnecessary warning in Windows or confirmations by the user and the Internet Explorer icon should also be unpinned from the Start screen. We expect Microsoft to address these issues.

Under EU law, Almunia could hit Microsoft with a fine totaling a maximum of 10 percent of the companys global annual revenue, which in this case would be $7 billionbut it seems unlikely that it would get to that point. For now, the highest fine the EU has issued was $1.4 billion. Intel was the 2009 recipient of that fine, in a case that remains on appeal.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: browsers, EU, Microsoft

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