Tuesday

23rd Jul 2019

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.

Macron: 14 EU states agree on a migration 'mechanism'

"The haggling around rescues in the Mediterranean has to be ended," German foreign minister Heiko Mass said after the Paris meeting on migration. However, details of Emmanuel Macron's 'solidarity mechanism' were not specific.

Podcast

Abortion Wars

Pressures on women to avoid terminating unwanted pregnancies have been growing in countries including Croatia, Poland and Romania.

News in Brief

  1. Johnson is next British prime minister
  2. Johnson set to be announced British PM on Tuesday
  3. UK-based owners of .eu domains could keep name
  4. Weyand: EU would respond to US tariffs on cars
  5. UK foreign office minister quits ahead of Johnson as PM
  6. AKK to boost Bundeswehr budget to Nato target
  7. Police arrest 25 after Polish LGBT-march attack
  8. Ukrainian president's party tops parliament election

Agenda

EU goes on holiday as new UK PM arrives This WEEK

Boris Johnson is almost certain to become the UK's next prime minister, and oversee Brexit until the 31 October deadline, as work in the EU bubble is winding down for the summer.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Macron: 14 EU states agree on a migration 'mechanism'
  2. As Johnson set to become PM, ministers pledge to resign
  3. Poland's PiS prepares 'failsafe' for October election
  4. Abortion Wars
  5. EU goes on holiday as new UK PM arrives This WEEK
  6. Survey: Half of EU staff 'don't know' ethics rules
  7. Von der Leyen signals soft touch on migrants, rule of law
  8. Timmermans: von der Leyen will be tough on rule of law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us