EU could force Microsoft to bundle Firefox with Windows

EU ruling could force alternative browsers to be bundled with future versions of Windows

Stuart Turton
26 Jan 2009

The European Commission could force Microsoft to bundle Firefox with future versions of Windows.

The revelation came as part of Microsoft's quarterly filing with the Security and Exchange Commission. Among the statements is a clause outlining the penalties being considered by the European watchdog, which recently ruled that Microsoft is harming competition by bundling Internet Explorer with Windows.

The most interesting situation outlined in the filing would see either Microsoft or computer manufacturers forced to install Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari by default alongside Internet Explorer on new Windows-based PCs.

"While computer users and OEMs are already free to run any web browsing software on Windows, the Commission is considering ordering Microsoft and OEMs to obligate users to choose a particular browser when setting up a new PC," the company reports in the filing.

"Such a remedy might include a requirement that OEMs distribute multiple browsers on new Windows-based PCs. We may also be required to disable certain unspecified Internet Explorer software code if a user chooses a competing browser."

Non-compliance would see the EU impose a "significant fine based on sales of Windows operating systems in the European Union", the filing further notes.

Microsoft has two months to respond to the charges, after which the EC will make its final ruling on the matter. The software company can also request a hearing and says it's considering this alternative.

Should Microsoft be charged, the penalty could come into effect in time for the release of Windows 7, which is expected either later this year, or early 2010.

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