EC Officially Objects Microsoft On Non-compliance With Browser Choice Commitments

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European Commission today officially sent its statement of objection to Microsoft regarding the browser choice commitments which Microsoft earlier agreed to comply with as a result of the previous settlement with EC.

Press Release:

Antitrust: Commission sends Statement of Objections to Microsoft on non-compliance with browser choice commitments The European Commission has informed Microsoft of its preliminary view that Microsoft has failed to comply with its commitments to offer users a choice screen enabling them to easily choose their preferred web browser. In 2009, the Commission had made these commitments legally binding on Microsoft (see IP/09/1941). The sending of a statement of objections does not prejudge the final outcome of the investigation.

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. From February 2011 until July 2012, millions of Windows users in the EU may not have seen the choice screen. Microsoft has acknowledged that the choice screen was not displayed during that period.

In December 2009, the Commission had made legally binding on Microsoft commitments offered by the US software company to address competition concerns related to the tying of Microsoft’s web browser, Internet Explorer, to its dominant client PC operating system Windows (see IP/09/1941, MEMO/09/558 and MEMO/09/559). Specifically, Microsoft committed to make available for five years (i.e. until 2014) in the European Economic Area a “choice screen” enabling users of Windows to choose in an informed and unbiased manner which web browser(s) they wanted to install in addition to, or instead of, Microsoft’s web browser. The choice screen was provided as of March 2010 to European Windows users who have Internet Explorer set as their default web browser.

The Commission had opened proceedings to investigate the potential non-compliance with the browser choice commitments on 16 July 2012 (see IP/12/800).

Background on the commitments decision In January 2009, the Commission sent Microsoft a Statement of Objections, outlining its preliminary view that the company abused its dominant position in the market for client PC operating systems through the tying of Internet Explorer to Windows (see MEMO/09/15). In order to address the Commission’s concerns, Microsoft offered commitments, including the set-up of a “ballot screen” in the Windows PC operating system, from which consumers could easily choose their preferred internet browser (see MEMO/09/352). In October 2009, the Commission market tested an improved proposal from Microsoft (see MEMO/09/439).

In light of the reactions to the market test, the Commission concluded that the commitments would remedy its competition concerns and made the commitments legally binding on Microsoft in December 2009 (see IP/09/1941, MEMO/09/558 and MEMO/09/559), pursuant to Article 9 of the Antitrust Regulation No 1/2003.

More information about the browser choice commitment is available at: http://ec.europa.eu/competition/consumers/web_browsers_choice_en.html

Procedural background A statement of objections is a formal step in Commission investigations. The Commission informs the parties concerned in writing of the objections raised against them and the parties can reply in writing and request an oral hearing to present comments.

The Commission takes a final decision only after the parties have exercised their rights of defence.

If a company has breached commitments made legally binding by way of an Article 9 decision, it may be fined up to 10% of its total annual turnover.



About Author

Pradeep, a Computer Science & Engineering graduate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnWikiNolan John Antony Daniel Nolan

    Disgusting, the EC needs to keep their nose out of business that isnt their own. Where is their objection to Apples’ lack of browser choices? They are stringing for cash and willingly go into the pockets of giants who done nothing wrong and take their cash. “The Comission” can kiss my ass if you do not understand how to download another browser then make it the problem of competing web browsers developers or the consumer and not Microsoft. If I were selling cars, I wouldnt show people my Hatchback and 10 other Hatchbacks from my competitors. I want them to buy mine and not theirs.

    • XB_Mod

      I also think its ridiculous that Microsoft has to give you a screen to use competitors products…if anyone wants Chrome or Firefox, they can download it.

      • Asgardi

        Search engine choice to google.com!

  • koenshaku

    Ridiculous why recommend 3rd party browsers that you have no control over? To make your operating system less secure?

  • http://twitter.com/counterblow the person

    last time I checked, world wide browser share has tipped in favor of Chrome. the EU is just doing a shake down.

  • JoshC

    In communist EC browser chooses you

  • http://www.facebook.com/Longshot9 John Hough

    You don’t PAY for browsers. It’s MS’s software, they should be able to put their own browser in. If they locked down their OS so users couldn’t install their own, then yeah… i’d have a problem with that too. People can make their own choice. This is soooo stupid.

    So they’re supposed to give me the option to install Firefox, Chrome, and Safari? What about Maxthon, or Opera, or Seamonkey, or Rockmelt, or Avant??? Hell, by this logic they should list every single browser ever made and really confuse the f@#$ out of everyone.

    • Asgardi

      Actually there are over 10 browsers in the screen. Opera, Google and Firefox were trying to get free users who don’t know which one to click, but MS put the screen so full of other crappy browsers that it is even more luck if someone happens to install FF, Chrome or Opera :)

  • PutMyNameHere

    Not sure how anyone can claim with a straight face that MS wasn’t/isn’t giving users a choice in the 1st place. Is or have MS ever prevented ANYONE from installing their browser of choice?
    If they have not prevented anyone from installing their browser of choice, then this whole thing has been a farce from the get go. There is no other way to interpret this.
    One would think there would be a way to prevent the EC from extorting huge amounts of money out of a company like this on such ridiculous grounds.

  • himura_kenshin

    What I fail to understand is how this in any way effects Google, Apple, Mozilla or Opera. Unlike in the 90s when Netscape was a commercial, for sale product, all these browsers are free to use and provide no financial benefit to their creators. There is no harm done (and as others have pointed out, Chrome is used more than IE is), so it is absolutely pointless to hold Microsoft responsible for … essentially nothing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lundberg.christoffer Christoffer DrPepper Lundberg

    EC = European Cocksuckers! YES, they can go to hell. Why not also do this to Apple since they also ship their god-fucking Safari “browser” with their operating system. Why do only MS have to suffer from this? I am asking myself. I am ashamed of being a European.

  • David

    EC needs to go to hell!
    How come they are in bed with Goole and Apple and anyone else specially Microsoft always have to pay them free money!?

  • calingasan

    I smell bail out money for their failed economy. How about boycotting EU all together Microsoft. Let’s see how their economy goes without windows or azure.