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EU antitrust officials get tough with Microsoft

Competition regulators’ patience wearing thin on browser choice issue

If found guilty, Microsoft could face fines amounting to 10% of its global turnover.
If found guilty, Microsoft could face fines amounting to 10% of its global turnover.

European regulators today announced they are preparing to open an antitrust hearing against Microsoft Corp for its failure to comply with a 2009 directive to give European consumers a choice of web browsers, reports Reuters.

If found guilty, Microsoft could face fines amounting to 10% of its global turnover.

"The next step is to open a formal proceeding into the company's breach of an agreement. We are working on this," EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told reporters.

"It should not be a long investigation because the company itself explicitly recognised its breach of the agreement."

Microsoft's acknowledgement of a lack of promised choice in browsers in Windows 7, which was released in February 2011, is thought to represent a first time occurrence of a company reneging on commitments to the EU's antitrust authority.

The US software giant has been fined more than $1.3bn by the European Commission in the past decade for breach of EU rules.

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