EU investigating Microsoft over missing browser ballot

Microsoft faces EU sanctions after failing to include the browser ballot in Windows 7 Service Pack 1.

EU investigating Microsoft over missing browser ballot

The European Commission is investigating after receiving reports that the company stopped showing users a pop-up screen displaying rival browsers, allowing them to easily choose an alternative to Internet Explorer as part of an anti-competition settlement.

“On the basis of information it has received, the Commission believes that Microsoft may have failed to roll out the choice screen with Windows 7 Service Pack 1, which was released in February 2011,” the EC said in a statement.

I trusted the company’s reports were accurate. But it seems that was not the case, so we have immediately taken action

“This is despite the fact that, in December 2011, Microsoft indicated in its annual compliance report to the Commission that it was in compliance with its commitments.”

According to the EC, millions of Windows users in the EU may have not seen the choice screen. Microsoft has acknowledged that the choice screen was not displayed during that period.

“We take compliance with our decisions very seriously. And I trusted the company’s reports were accurate. But it seems that was not the case, so we have immediately taken action,” said Joaquín Almunia, vice president of the Commission in charge of competition policy. “If following our investigation, the infringement is confirmed, Microsoft should expect sanctions.”

Microsoft apologised for the error, and said it was working on fixing it. “Due to a technical error, we missed delivering the BCS [browser choice screen] software to PCs that came with the service pack 1 update to Windows 7,” Microsoft said in a statement to Reuters.

The issue stems from a 2009 commitment over competition fears that the company was bundling its browser within its Windows operating system. The subsequent browser ballot was intended to offer other browsers to users, to give lesser-known rivals a chance to compete.

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