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Microsoft has formally responded to European Commission concerns about bundling of its web browser Internet Explorer with Windows operating systems.

The original complaint was made by Norwegian browser maker Opera. It accused Microsoft of leveraging its desktop monopoly to distribute the browser and of ignoring web standards. Because of its large market share web developers were encouraged to optimise their sites for IE - to the disadvantage of other browser makers which did follow web standards.

The Directorate General for Competition issued a Statement of Objections to Microsoft in January. Its prelimary findings were that linking IE and Windows “harms competition between web browsers, undermines product innovation and ultimately reduces consumer choice”.

Microsoft's next big release - Windows 7 - will come with a toggle to switch off IE8. It also promised that its next browser will do a better job of following web standards.

There's no official line from Microsoft yet, but we'll update when we get it. According to AFP Microsoft has asked the Commission for a hearing into the issue.

The EC and Microsoft have clashed before - over abusing its dominant desktop position and digital rights management. ®

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