May 30, 2009

EU may force other browsers into Windows

European Union regulators are negotiating with Microsoft Corp. to force it to include Internet browser choices in its Windows operating system, sources say.

The long-running battle between EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes and the U.S. software giant has reached a new stage as efforts to make Microsoft unbundle its Internet Explorer Web browser from Windows have been superceded by a push to instead make it include an array of browser choices to be picked by the user on a ballot screen, Saturday's Wall Street Journal reported unnamed sources saying.

The inclusion of additional browsers is seen as a way of diluting Microsoft's advantage in the field. The newspaper said the EU has yet to make a final ruling on the issue, part of a series of conflicts between Kroes and Microsoft that have ended in more than $2 billion in antitrust fines.

A spokesman for Microsoft told the Journal it is committed to full compliance with EU law.

To be effective, a remedy must present users with a real choice in browsers, and make it easy for them to execute that choice, Julia Holtz, senior competition counsel in Europe for Google Inc., told the newspaper.