The European Commission (EC) [official website] accused [speech; press release] Microsoft [corporate website] on Wednesday of violating an agreement to provide consumers with a choice of Internet browsers. EC Vice President Joaquin Alumnia [official website] stated that Microsoft abused its dominant market position by tying in its Internet Explorer browser with Windows computers. The EC has previously stated [press release] that by supplying Internet Explorer on 90 percent of its PCs, Microsoft gave its own browser an unfair competitive advantage over other web browsers. In his speech, Alumnia declared that Microsoft failed to provide a browser choice screen that would enable users to select from a variety of internet browsers:
Microsoft had to display a screen enabling all Windows users to easily choose their preferred web browser. This gave consumers a real choice to use the product that best suited their needs. However, when Microsoft launched Windows 7 Service Pack 1 in February 2011, the choice screen was no longer displayed. Microsoft has acknowledged this. This means that those users have not seen the choice screen in the period from February 2011 to July 2012.The EC plans to make a formal ruling [AP report] after Microsoft presents its defense to the EC's argument.
The EU and Microsoft have been engaged in several legal battles in recent years. In June an EU court upheld several fines against Microsoft [JURIST report] for failing to comply with an EC order. Microsoft appealed the $1.3 billion fine in May 2011, arguing [JURIST report] that the fine was excessive and that the law was unclear. In March 2011 Microsoft filed a complaint [JURIST report] with the EC over alleged anticompetitive practices by Google [corporate website], which is under investigation [JURIST report] by the EC for allegations of manipulation of search results to highlight Google's own products and services. In October 2007 Microsoft said it would take the necessary steps [JURIST report] to comply with a 2004 EC antitrust ruling [text]. The software company agreed to allow open source software developers to access and use interoperability information, reduce the royalties for a worldwide license, and make agreements between third party developers and Microsoft enforceable before the High Court in London.