Feeds

Report: Microsoft to cop it from Brussels in Browser Choice affair

Ballmer's back to feel the licking o' the cat

Security for virtualized datacentres

Microsoft is reportedly set to be whacked with a Statement of Objections from European Commission competition officials over the software giant's foolish browser-choice gaffe in which users of the Windows OS were steered into using the firm's IE software.

According to Bloomberg, which cited two anonymous sources familiar with the matter, the alleged antitrust breaches could lead to Microsoft being hit with yet more fines. This is even though the company attempted to forestall the damage by apologising for the cockup, which saw EU mandated browser-choice dialogues fail to appear on many Windows PCs sold in Europe in recent times.

The Register contacted competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia's office this morning, only to be told that the EC was not in a position to comment outside of its July statement confirming a probe of Microsoft's browser choice inaction was underway.

Just last week, Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer was said to have agreed to comply with any sanctions laid down by Almunia's office.

The company is being investigated over its supposedly mistaken banishment of the "browser choice" screen, which would have required European customers to pick which surfing tool they wanted to run on their Windows-based machines. A service pack update to Windows 7 omitted the feature, which had been installed as part of a previous Euro competition agreement.

Microsoft said it failed to spot that it was no longer including the browser choice screen for 17 months: the vendor has described the apparent mishap as a "technical error" rather than a deliberate action to push Internet Explorer. The issue is only really relevant in the case of very non-savvy or terminally lazy users, as it is trivially simple to install alternative browsers with or without the EU choice dialogue.

Microsoft was fined €1.68m by the commission in 2009 as part of the competition probe which saw it agree to install the choice tool on machines for sale in Europe. The legally binding agreement remains in force until 2014: MS has recently started delivering the browser choice screen to users of Windows in the EU's 27 member-states once again.

Historically, Internet Explorer was the dominant browser used across the globe. Recently, however, Google's Chrome has begun to play the nudge game with IE for first place and others like Firefox and Opera also have a presence. However Microsoft clearly failed to adhere to its 2009 agreement with the EC, hence the likelihood of further sanctions. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Why Oracle CEO Larry Ellison had to go ... Except he hasn't
Silicon Valley's veteran seadog in piratical Putin impression
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
Bono: Apple will sort out monetising music where the labels failed
Remastered so hard it would be difficult or impossible to master it again
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.