EU antitrust regulator files complaint against Microsoft for breaching browser choice order

Microsoft may be fined up to 10 percent of its worldwide turnover, the Commission said

By Loek Essers, IDG News Service |  IT Management

The European Commission has made a formal statement of objections to Microsoft over the company's failure to fulfill its commitment to offer Windows users a free choice of browser in settlement of an earlier antitrust case, the Commission said on Wednesday.

Microsoft had promised to show a browser choice screen to Windows users, but the Commission has been investigating complaints that the screen was not shown to some Windows 7 users.

"In its statement of objections, the Commission takes the preliminary view that Microsoft has failed to roll out the browser choice screen with its Windows 7 Service Pack 1, which was released in February 2011," the Commission said, adding that millions of European Windows users may not have seen the browser choice screen between February 2011 and July 2012.

"Microsoft has acknowledged that the choice screen was not displayed during that period," the Commission said.

Microsoft has been legally bound to show the browser choice screen to Windows users in Europe since December 2009, allowing them to choose which web browser they wanted to install instead of, or in addition to, Microsoft's Internet Explorer. As of March 2010 Internet Explorer users who set that browser as a default in Europe were presented with a screen to choose another browser.

The Commission said the statement of objections is a formal step in the investigation. Microsoft is informed of the objections and can reply in writing and request an oral hearing, it said.

"The Commission takes a final decision only after the parties have exercised their rights of defence," it said, adding that Microsoft maybe fined up to 10 percent of its worldwide turnover.

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