Microsoft settles European browser complaint

EC and Microsoft agree on 'browser choice' and commitment to interoperability

Tags: AntitrustBelgiumEuropean CommissionMicrosoft Corporation
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Microsoft settles European browser complaint The agreement will encourage innovation in web applications, says Kroes. (Getty Images)
By  Mark Sutton Published  December 16, 2009

The European Commission has dropped its anti-competition action against Microsoft, after the company agreed to include a ‘browser choice' screen in its Windows operating system.

Microsoft will no longer face fines from the EC, after making changes to browser choice screen, which is intended to show users they have a choice of browser, along with other commitments to interoperability.

The move ends years of dispute between the EC and Microsoft, over whether bundling the Internet Explorer browser with Windows constituted monopolistic behaviour. From mid-March next year, Windows users will see a screen enabling them to select from a choice of the 12 most widely-used browsers in the European Economic Area, to set their default browser. The browser choice screen will also be pushed to existing users of Windows, to make them aware of the choice.

Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for Competition Policy commented: "More than 100 million European computer users stand to benefit from the Commission's decision today. An even higher number will benefit over the five year lifetime of the commitments made binding on Microsoft with today's decision.

"Today's decision will encourage innovation - both on the web browser market and on related markets such as web-based applications. And where innovation thrives, so do consumers," she added.

The agreement will oblige Microsoft to report annually to the EC on the implementation of the choice screen, and to make adjustments to it as the EC requests.

Microsoft has also committed to making technical documents available to developers, around key product lines including Windows, Windows Server, Office, Exchange, and SharePoint, along with support for industry standards, to enable greater interoperability and access for developers to Microsoft solutions.

Brad Smith, senior vice president and general counsel, said in a statement: "We are pleased with today's decision by the European Commission, which approves a final resolution of several longstanding competition law issues in Europe. We look forward to building on the dialogue and trust that has been established between Microsoft and the Commission and to extending our industry leadership on interoperability."

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