Microsoft faces EU antitrust probe over browser choice SNAFU; Microsoft blames ‘technical error’

“Microsoft Corp. risks European Union penalties for failing to comply with a settlement to give users a choice of web browsers, more than two years after it tried to end a decade-long clash with antitrust regulators,” Aoife White reports for Bloomberg.

“EU Competition Commission Joaquin Almunia said Microsoft may have misled regulators by failing to display a browser choice screen to users of the Windows operating system since February 2011,” White reports. “The world’s largest software company blamed a technical error for not showing the screen to some users and offered to extend its commitment until March 2016.”

White reports, “Microsoft has already been fined 1.68 billion euros ($2.06 billion) in EU antitrust probes. The Redmond, Washington-based company agreed to offer access to rival browsers as a part of a settlement to repair its relationship with the bloc’s regulators. ‘I trusted that the company’s reports were accurate,’ EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in an e-mailed statement. ‘If following our investigation, the infringement was confirmed, Microsoft should expect sanctions.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Joaquin Almunia must be a blissful Mac user, too.

Related articles:
Microsoft hit with complaint of anti-competitve behavior over Windows RT – May 9, 2012
Microsoft’s Internet Explorer loses market share in Europe after Windows ballot screen debut – March 22, 2010
Mozilla Firefox whines as Apple Safari gets top spot on Microsoft Windows’ EU browser ballot screen – October 16, 2009
EU regulators plans new strike against Microsoft; force choice of browsers upon Windows PC setup – June 01, 2009
Opera files Web browser antitrust complaint against Microsoft with EU – December 13, 2007


  1. Just wondering. I assume they will have to do this on Windows 8, but what about on tablets? Where does their monopoly end if they’re running a one size fits all OS on all devices? Do they have to do it because they have a monopoly when it comes to OS usage on PC’s, but Apple don’t because there is more robust competition on portable devices? What’s the difference as to why they have to do it and Apple don’t, and does convergence of devices make a difference?

    1. There are two things at play here. MS was fined and agreed to provide a screen at start up that allowed EU residents to select the browser of their choice. The EU competition commission are partly there to be sure that products created in the EU get a fair shake. MS was not doing that of course and their run-in with regulators in the US had the same problem and forced MS to un-couple the browser from the OS so that users had the possibility of choice. EU went a small step further and made them offer the choice.
      Apple has not had this issue since in OS X users have been able to install any browser available and make it the default browser. In IOS this is not yet possible; you can install any available browser but you cannot make it the default. This is why there is now greater noise about allowing this choice in IOS.

      1. That’s what I thought, wondering if it translates across devices? If they’re running the same OS you would think it would. If so, does it then make Apple’s position on iOS more difficult as a result. If Microsoft have to do it on tablets then why shouldn’t Apple. I’m not bothered either way ultimately.

        1. I read somewhere that its different for ‘appliances’ that have a fixed set of operational parameters. Apple would probably argue along those lines but it’s getting more difficult as functionality is increased in iOS. MS will probably have more of a problem given their ‘one OS/no difference across all devices’ meme.

      2. Apple’s business Model is very different, Apple doesn’t  sell or allow OSX to run on any Systems but it’s own Hardware. 

        OSX is considered a complement to the Mac, and not sold as a general operating System like Windows.

        Since Microsoft is considered a so called “Open General” OS that anyone may purchase and use, it must follow different guidelines that its business Charter calls for, it needs to have certain features open to allow inclusion of different browser’s as an “INSTALL” option since it played favor to its IE browser. 

        Microsoft  had been found guilty in favoring it’s browser over others by not allowing a choice at the beginning of the install process.

        Apple’s desktop OSX is not an open software platform for sale to and for all  generic PC’s, in turn it doesn’t have to follow those guidelines of offering a different browser during the install like Microsoft, due to having a different business model. 

        Allot of confusion exsist between the desktop OSX and mobile IOS based offerings, they are very much diffrent in respects to requirements and what is allowed and what isn’t by the use of access to API’s and low core system functions by 3rd party.

        A company’s Business Model really make’s the difference on what they can do and not do.

        For instance on the mobile Platform,  Apple doesn’t have to give any application/browser low level API tie in control, other what is offered in the allowed use of Developer API’s, and as long as Apple allows other browsers to be installed, they are not breaking any laws.

        Just a few loud people speaking out on how unfair it is for them, nothing more.
        Think of the Havoc in having a 3rd party browser crashing your iPhone/ iPad/ iPod Touch if given the option to integrate Into the core of the IOS system, Apple’s purpose is to give the best user experience, it could be a disaster. 

        Apple allows 3rd party browsers in IOS, but it doesn’t have to allow any 3rd party browser complete tie-in and control integration, including its core underpinnings and private API’s.

  2. So something was so bad that EU fined M$ $2billion and required browser selection, but then never checked to see if M$ did it? Only in Europe. Maybe you should check to see if they paid you the $2 billion.

  3. Microsoft then we have Google, both have interchangeability that is very much like the other and the excuses demonstrate the same for both.

    Google is the same in respects in using the same play book,

    “Now we know the Rest of the Story ”

    Good Day.

    ” thanks to the late Paul Harvey for all the years of great reporting “

  4. Yes, I believe Microsoft on the “Techincal Error” part. Windows and Microsoft product(s) have been technical errors for decades. Just make them pay in large costly numbers of banknotes and see if they can weed out those technical problems fast enough…California dreaming!

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