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EU may order Microsoft to offer a choice of Web browsers

Latest update : 2009-02-25

The European Commission is to consider ordering Microsoft to offer a choice of Web browsers in its Windows operating system. Internet Explorer is the only such system to be installed automatically and it is difficult to disable.

AFP - The European Commission may order US software giant Microsoft to give Windows users a clear and easy choice of web browsers, even allowing customers to disable the company's Internet Explorer system, a spokesman said Tuesday.

"The Commission would consider ordering Microsoft to give users an objective opportunity to choose which competing web browsers instead of, or in addition to, Internet Explorer they want to install in Windows," the commission spokesman said.

"Microsoft could also be ordered to technically allow the user to disable Internet Explorer code should the user choose to install a competing browser," he added.

The European Commission and Microsoft have long clashed over the US company's practice of bundling other software such as media players into Windows.

The EU's executive arm opened a new front last month hitting the US giant with fresh charges of unfairly squashing competition.

In a move that could lead to huge new fines -- on top of the hundreds of millions of euros which Microsoft has already paid up or is contesting in other EU cases -- Europe's top antitrust watchdog has accused the Seattle-based software maker of crushing rivals by bundling its Internet Explorer web browser into its ubiquitous Windows personal computer operating system.

He said the "remedy" would be used if the accusations made in January were confirmed.

Microsoft has eight weeks -- until mid-March -- to respond to the charges and can request an oral hearing to state its defence.

Date created : 2009-02-25