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EC: Microsoft didn't honour browser-choice commitment

Millions weren't offered chance to bin IE in Windows 7, says commission

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Microsoft has failed to comply with its commitments to offer people the chance to ditch Internet Explorer, the European Commission has said in a preliminary Statement of Objections that it has fired off to Microsoft HQ.

From 2009, Microsoft has been legally obliged to show EU Windows users a "choice screen" so they can decide which browser they wish to install. Automatically tying Internet Explorer to the Windows operating system was a breach of antitrust legislation, the Eurocrats declared.

But the "choice screen" did not materialise in Windows 7 when it launched in February 2011 and from Feb 2011 until July 2012 millions of users were never shown the "choice screen".

This meant that millions of people missed the chance to ditch IE for a better different browser. Microsoft has acknowledged that it did not offer a choice screen for those 17 months, though previously claimed that this was down to a technical error and that it didn't notice the mistake until just under a year-and-a-half later.

Microsoft will have a chance to respond to the Commission's objections before the EU court takes a final decision. The issue has the potential to be a serious pain in the pocket for MS.

If the commission decides that the commitment was breached, Microsoft may be fined up to 10 per cent of its total annual turnover. ®

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