Another chapter in one of the longest running technology legal disputes in history may be ready to come to a close. Tech giant Microsoft (News - Alert) is reportedly getting ready to put into place measures that are expected to address the European Union's decades-long complaints of antitrust activity when it comes to building browsers into the Windows operating systems, stifling users’ ability to choose their own browser (and therefore competition, says the EU).
The announcement was made over the weekend at an economic conference in Italy European Commissioner by Joaquin Almunia, who is in charge of antitrust enforcement.
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EU antitrust regulators have been investigating whether Microsoft actively blocks competitors from installing other Web browsers on its new Windows 8 operating system. The investigation was launched based on complaints from several companies. According to the complaints, Microsoft had failed to abide by a 2009 agreement with the EU requiring it to offer consumers a choice of browsers other than Internet Explorer.
"In my personal talks with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer (News - Alert) he has given me assurances that they will comply immediately regardless of the conclusion of the antitrust probe," Almunia said, adding that he considered the matter a "very, very serious issue."
The affair is part of an investigation opened in July in response to what some perceive as Microsoft’s failure to offer users a choice of rival Web browsers, an action it had agreed with EU regulators three years ago.
In addition, the EU watchdog is also looking into allegations that Microsoft does not provide access to complete interfaces (APIs) for non-default browsers in Windows 8.
Microsoft has apologized to the EU, claiming that the failure to offer the browser choice screen to Windows 7 users for nearly a year-and-a-half was a "technical error." Microsoft faces fines that could run into the billions for the oversight.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman