European Commission Investigating Microsoft About Browser Choice Issues

Posted Jul 17, 2012

The European Commission is investigating Microsoft about whether the company is complying with their commitments to offer users a choice of their preferred web browser is within the Windows operating systems.

According to the European Commission, Microsoft may not have offered the browser choice screen when rolling out Windows 7 Service Pack 1, which became available around February 2011.  Microsoft could be fined 10% of its annual turnover as a result, which The Next Web calculates at being around $7 billion.

Microsoft told the European Commission in December 2011 that they complied with regulations.  Millions of European Windows users may not have been offered a choice over which browser they wish to use.

When the European Commission investigated Microsoft in 2009 over Internet Explorer’s dominance in the browser market, Microsoft suggested providing users with an option to choose from a different browser in the form of a “Ballot Screen.”

The Ballot Screen would show five popular browsers in random order including: Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, and Safari.

?We take compliance with our decisions very seriously. And I trusted the company?s reports were accurate. But it seems that was not the case, so we have immediately taken action. If following our investigation, the infringement is confirmed, Microsoft should expect sanctions,” said European Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia.

Microsoft said that the “Ballot Screen” did not appear because of a technical glitch.  They said that they have taken steps to fix the problem and offered to extend the compliance period for an additional 15 months.

“Due to a technical error, we missed delivering the BCS (browser choice screen) software to PCs that came with the service pack 1 update to Windows 7,” said Microsoft. “While we have taken immediate steps to remedy this problem, we deeply regret that this error occurred and we apologise for it.”