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EU settles Microsoft antitrust dispute over web browsers

[JURIST] The European Commission (EC) on Wednesday agreed to drop antitrust charges [press release] against Microsoft [corporate website; JURIST news archive] after the company agreed to offer consumers a choice of web browsers [JURIST report]. The EC had accused Microsoft of violating fair competition rules by bundling the Internet Explorer browser with its Windows operating system. Under the agreement, European Windows users will have the option to switch to an alternative browser beginning next year. European Commissioner for Competition Policy Neelie Kroes said [remarks] that, "[m]ore than 100 million European computer users stand to benefit from the Commission's decision today. Microsoft Senior Vice President and General Counsel Brad Smith said [press release] the company is "pleased" with the decision. Rival browser makers Google and Mozilla, which had joined the case originally brought [JURIST reports] by Opera, also welcomed the decision [NYT report].

Microsoft has also faced antitrust charges in other parts of the world. In September, the Seoul Central District Court found Microsoft in violation [JURIST report] of South Korea's antitrust laws for bundling software programs with its Windows operating system. The court found the company's bundling practice to be in violation of fair competition rules and disruptive to the market. This was the second suit within a few months in which Microsoft was found liable for breach of South Korean antitrust laws. In June, the same court ruled that Microsoft violated antitrust laws [JURIST report] by packaging software with its Windows operating system, also dismissing requests for damages from two Korean software firms on the grounds that the damages were not sufficiently linked to Microsoft's conduct.

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