European Commission investigates Microsoft's browser choice commitments

Windows 7 Service Pack 1 may not comply with a 2009 antitrust settlement, the Commission says

The European Commission has launched a formal investigation of Microsoft's compliance with commitments it made to settle a browser antitrust case.

In 2009, the company agreed to offer Windows users in the European Union a simple way to pick their preferred default web browser, rather than forcing them to use Internet Explorer. But now the Commission believes that Microsoft did not include the browser choice mechanism in Windows 7 Service Pack 1, released in February 2011, despite Microsoft claiming in a December 2011 report that it had complied with its commitments.

Millions of Windows users in the E.U. may not have been offered a choice of default browser as a result, the Commission said on Tuesday.

Microsoft said in a statement that it had fallen short in its responsibility to offer the browser choice to all Windows users.

A technical error meant that it failed to offer the browser choice on PCs that came with the service pack 1 update to Windows 7, the company said. However, the choice screen was delivered correctly to PCs running the original version of Windows 7, and to the relevant versions of Windows XP and Windows Vista, it said.

When the company heard from the Commission on July 2 that it had not distributed the browser choice software to roughly 28 million PCs running Windows 7 SP1, it immediately began testing a fix and began distributing it the following day, it said.

Outside counsel have investigated how the problem occurred and will report to the Commission shortly, the company said.

Microsoft made a legally binding commitment to offer the browser choice through December 2014, in settlement of a case in which it was accused of abusing its dominant position in the market for PC operating systems by tying its browser to Windows.

Microsoft estimated that the browser choice software was received by 90 percent of the PCs that should have received it.

The Commission now plans to investigate whether Microsoft failed to comply with its commitments, in particular the commitment to provide a browser choice screen to Windows 7 users. If the company has breached its commitments, it could be fined up to 10 percent of annual revenue.

The company has offered to extend the period for which it must comply with the 2009 ruling by 15 months.

Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at peter_sayer@idg.com.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

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

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?