The European Commission has issued a notice to technology giant Microsoft of its understanding that the company failed to give users a choice of different browsers if they did not want Microsoft’s Internet Explorer as their default internet browser.
The Commission signed a legally binding agreement in 2009 with Microsoft, forcing the company to easily allow users the choice of browser. It was revealed a number of months ago that Microsoft removed the functionality to choose a browser in 2011.
“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,” the Commission said in a statement.
Microsoft has also acknowledged that users were not given a choice during that time. “We take this matter very seriously and moved quickly to address this problem as soon as we became aware of it. Although this was the result of a technical error, we take responsibility for what happened, and we are strengthening our internal procedures to help ensure something like this cannot happen again. We sincerely apologize for this mistake and will continue to cooperate fully with the Commission,” Microsoft said.
Under the agreement signed between Microsoft and the European Commission, “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. 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.”
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor