Microsoft offers choice of browsers to satisfy EU

The company is seeking to address competition concerns raised by the European Commission in January

Microsoft has offered to provide a choice of Web browsers with its upcoming Windows 7 operating system to ease concerns of competition regulators in the European Union, the EU's competition authority confirmed Friday.

Microsoft proposed including a "ballot screen" that would make it easy for Windows 7 users to install a competing Web browser, set it as the default and disable Internet Explorer, the European Commission said in a statement. PC makers would also be able to install competing Web browsers and disable IE.

"The Commission welcomes this proposal, and will now investigate its practical effectiveness in terms of ensuring genuine consumer choice," it said.

The Commission raised concerns in January that Microsoft's practice of tying IE with Windows might be anticompetitive. Later, in June, it said that simply separating IE from Windows might not be sufficient to ensure competition.

After that warning, Microsoft said it would ship a version of Windows 7 in Europe without Internet Explorer, to make sure it complied with the law. On Friday it said it would continue shipping that version, called Windows 7 E, to PC makers until the Commission decides whether to accept the ballot option.

"PC manufacturers building machines for the European market will continue to be required to ship E versions of Windows 7 until such time that the Commission fully reviews our proposals and determines whether they satisfy our obligations under European law," Microsoft said.

Microsoft has also made proposals to the Commission about disclosing information to achieve better interoperability between Windows, Windows Server and third-party products, the Commission said Friday. It is also investigating these proposals, it said, declining to comment further.

Microsoft said the interoperability efforts also include Office, Exchange, and SharePoint. "Like the Internet Explorer proposal, the interoperability measures we are offering involve significant change by Microsoft," the company said.

"We believe that if ultimately accepted, this proposal will fully address the European competition law issues relating to the inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows and interoperability with our high-volume products," the company said, adding that it would mark "a big step forward in addressing a decade of legal issues."

The EU has already won an earlier competition case against Microsoft. In May 2004 it fined the company a record EUR497 million ($794 million) and ordered it to sell a version of Windows in Europe that did not include Microsoft's Windows Media Player software, to restore competition in that market.

Few PC makers sold the version of Windows without WMP, however, and the remedy was widely seen as ineffective. The Commission is keen to extract more effective remedies from Microsoft for its latest objections.

Microsoft said it would publish its latest proposals "in full" on its Web site "as soon as possible."

Tags web browsersMicrosoft

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

James Niccolai

IDG News Service

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?