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16 December 2009, 13:16

European Commission drops Microsoft antitrust browser charges

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The European Commission - Directorate for Competition has officially dropped its antitrust charges against Microsoft, after Microsoft agreed to provide users of its Windows operating system a choice of web browsers. Under the new deal, Microsoft will avoid future E.C. fines and, from March, consumers will have a choice of up to twelve other web browsers. "Millions of European consumers will benefit from this decision by having a free choice about which web browser they use," said Commissioner Neelie Kroes.

Microsoft's deal with regulators gives European consumers the ability to install one or several different web browsers, without having to include or install Internet Explorer (IE) for Windows. According to the Associated Press article, users will be offered a choice from the top 12 most popular web browsers for Windows with the top 5 given most prominence. Listed open source browsers include Mozilla's Firefox, Flock, K-Meleon or Google's Chrome browser. Other listed browsers include, for example, Apple's Safari, Opera, the AOL Browser and Sleipnir.

The agreement ends over a decade of E.C. antitrust charges against world's largest software vendor. In February last year, the Brussels antitrust watchdogs had imposed a record fine of €899 million on Microsoft for hindering competition. Microsoft's overall E.C. fines to date amount to almost €1.677 billion. The vendor paid its first penalty of almost €500 million in 2004. More details about the European Commission decision can be found in the provided user guide, FAQ and in the opening remarks from Commissioner Neelie Kroes.

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