Microsoft proposes letting users choose browser: EU

From Reuters (7/24/09)
By Foo Yun Chee and Bate Felix

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Microsoft (MSFT.O) has offered to let users choose their own browser and provide more interoperability information to third parties in a bid to resolve two antitrust cases, EU regulators said on Friday.

The European Commission charged the U.S. software company on January 15 with seeking to thwart rivals by bundling the company’s Web browser with its Windows PC operating system, thus harming innovation and reducing consumer choice.

And in January last year, the EU executive had launched a probe on a complaint by industry body ECIS alleging that Microsoft had refused to disclose information that would allow third parties to design programs compatible with its products.

The Commission welcomed both proposals by Microsoft.

It said the browser offer was in line with proposals in its January 2009 charge sheet, the so-called statement of objections, and would be valid for Windows 7, due to be launched in October.

“The proposal recognizes the principle that consumers should be given a free and effective choice of Web browser, and sets out a means — the ballot screen — by which Microsoft believes that can be achieved,” the Commission said in a statement.

It said the company also planned to disclose more interoperability information related to Windows and Windows Server. The Commission said it would investigate both proposals before making a decision.

Microsoft has been involved in a long-running dispute with the Commission and has been fined 1.68 billion euros to date for infringing EU antitrust rules.

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