Monday

24th Sep 2018

Microsoft browser battle draws to a close

  • Microsoft has clashed with Ms Kroes on several occasions over the last five years (Photo: Microsoft)

An important chapter in the European Commission's decade-long battle with software giant Microsoft appeared to be drawing to a close on Wednesday (7 October) following an announcement of a deal over web browsers.

The Commission has long complained that Microsoft's bundling of its Internet Explorer web browser with its Windows operating system has given it an unfair market distribution and clear advantage over competitors.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

But the EU executive now appears happy with the roughly 20 changes that Microsoft has made to a July proposal to tackle the issue, with the new deal based around an explanatory screen offering users a choice between different browsers.

"Without choice, competition will die, and without competition, innovation will die," declared competition commissioner Neelie Kroes, who has been a major thorn in Microsoft's side since she took up the post 2004.

The Dutch commissioner who has slapped the US firm with over €1.2 billion in fines in the past appeared confident that this new agreement will work.

"I'm absolutely of the opinion that this is a trustful deal that we're making," Ms Kroes told journalists. "I trust Microsoft. I have contact with Steve Ballmer [Microsoft's CEO]. There can't be a misunderstanding."

Browser choice

Under the deal, Windows Update will automatically download a ballot screen to European users of Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP, with text explaining what browsers are.

Users will then be asked to select from a list of 12 browsers, including the five market leaders Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Google Chrome and Opera.

The current agreement will now undergo one month of "market testing", during which the industry is able to submit suggestions for further changes.

Following the trial month, the Commission may then decide to make the commitment legally binding for five years and take no further action against Microsoft related to browsers.

As well as providing a degree of closure to Ms Kroes as she nears the end of her term, the deal will also help the software firm concentrate on upcoming issues such as the European release of its new browser - Windows 7 - that launches worldwide on Oct. 22.

The company's legal team will also be able to now turn most of its attention to clearing a proposed Yahoo search deal with US and European anti-trust regulators.

"We were very pleased that the European Commission announced this morning that it's going to move forward with proposals that we at Microsoft have developed with them," said Brad Smith, Microsoft's chief negotiator.

"This is a big step towards closing a long chapter in Microsoft's ant-itrust controversies in Europe," he said.

Focus

EU reaches browser agreement with Microsoft

The European Commission has dropped its anti-trust case related to Internet browsers against Microsoft, following commitments from the US software giant to provide users with greater choice.

Agenda

Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK

The EU will be watching closely how the political dynamics of Theresa May's Conservative party conference starting next week will influence Brexit negotiations. MEPs might also be forced to release their office expenses.

Feature

Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit

Decisions in the EU are a complicated process of intense negotiations, quid pro quos and horse-trading, until an agreement can finally be reached. But that didn't happen in Salzburg.

Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate

Issues of sovereignty remain entrenched following a proposal by the European Commission to expand the EU's border and coast guard, also known as Frontex, to 10,000. But EU leaders maintain a "basic consensus" of support had been reached.

Agenda

Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK

The EU will be watching closely how the political dynamics of Theresa May's Conservative party conference starting next week will influence Brexit negotiations. MEPs might also be forced to release their office expenses.

Feature

Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit

Decisions in the EU are a complicated process of intense negotiations, quid pro quos and horse-trading, until an agreement can finally be reached. But that didn't happen in Salzburg.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  2. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia
  3. Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit
  4. Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate
  5. UK's post-Brexit plan 'will not work', EU says
  6. Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU
  7. Libya keeps coast guards rejected by the EU
  8. EU divisions on menu at Salzburg dinner

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us