US software giant offers to allow rival browsers in after long struggle with EU
Microsoft could close the door on a 10-year legal battle with the European Union, after the regulator backed its moves to open up internet browsing on Windows to rivals.
The Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said yesterday in Brussels that she had "good grounds for thinking that we are moving towards a very satisfactory resolution".
Brad Smith, general counsel for Microsoft, said yesterday's announcement was "a significant step toward closing a decade-long chapter of competition law concerns in Europe".
The regulator became concerned by Microsoft's practice of tying its Internet Explorer web browser to its Windows PC operating system, saying it would not allow consumers a free choice of using competitors, including Mozilla's Firefox and Google Chrome.
"The Commission's position is that PC users should have an effective and unbiased choice between Internet Explorer and competing web browsers to ensure competition on the merits," Ms Kroes said. No fines are expected.
Microsoft had presented remedies to the Commission in July, but they were rejected as inadequate. Following "extensive discussions" with the regulator over the past month, as well as feedback from the industry, it presented improved commitments,
Microsoft plans to allow Windows users in Europe to choose which browser they wish to use, in a commitment that would last five years, having what Ms Kroes called a "direct and immediate impact on the market". The IT group plans to offer Internet Explorer users a choice screen when they set up their new computer, allowing them to install whichever browser they want.
The choice screen will feature the 12 most widely used web browsers running on Windows. "Given that there are about five main browsers on the market today, this approach would leave plenty of room for newcomers to compete," Ms Kroes said.
The Commission is set to market test Microsoft's proposals with consumers this month, but said its …