Microsoft's promise to allow Windows users to choose which Internet browser they use has been accepted by the European Commission, ending its antitrust investigation of the company's position in the browser market.
The company will offer users of Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 a choice screen through which they can pick the browsers they want to install on their PC. The screen will be offered to users in the European Union and some neighboring countries for the next five years via the Windows Update mechanism. In addition, PC manufacturers will be allowed to ship computers with competing Web browsers, as well as or instead of Internet Explorer.
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The Commission informed Microsoft of its objections to the company's practice of tying Internet Explorer to its Windows operating systems on Jan. 15. By exploiting its dominant position in the operating system market, Microsoft prevented other software browsers from competing on their merits. The new choice screen will enable such competition, the Commission said Wednesday.
Now that the Commission has accepted Microsoft's proposal, it becomes legally binding. If Microsoft fails to deliver, it could face a fine of up to 10 percent of its worldwide turnover, under E.U. antitrust law. The Commission will review the situation regularly to ensure that the choice screen is achieve the desired result, and may require Microsoft to make changes, it said.