Microsoft says fixing browser issue as EU opens probe

BRUSSELS, July 17 Tue Jul 17, 2012 7:29am EDT

BRUSSELS, July 17 (Reuters) - Microsoft said on Tuesday a technical glitch had prevented it from offering users the choice of browsers it had promised and that it was taking steps to fix the problem after EU competition regulators opened an investigation into the matter.

"Due to a technical error, we missed delivering the BCS (browser choice screen) software to PCs that came with the service pack 1 update to Windows 7," Microsoft said in a statement.

"While we have taken immediate steps to remedy this problem, we deeply regret that this error occurred and we apologise for it."

The U.S. software giant said it was now distributing software with the browser option and has offered to extend the compliance period for an additional 15 months. It said it may face regulatory sanctions for breaching its undertakings to the European Commission after an antitrust ruling.

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Comments (2)
timacheson wrote:
How ridiculous.

It’s noteworthy that neither iOS or Android have a “browser choice” screen, when these operating systems are developed by two of the most vocal among the lobbyists who achieved the original result at the EU. Google presented its self as the hero, a neutral party acting purely in the public interest, but of course as soon as they succeeded at the EU the corporation announced that it would be launching its own rival browser.

The notion that users need a special prompt to encourage them to go and download a free web browser to use instead of the default web browser is utter nonsense. The architects of this nonsense know it, as unambiguously demonstrated by the lack of such a feature in their own OSs (launched after the original EU ruling).

The EU is arguably the most bloated and corrupt institution in the history of human civilization. Perhaps some ageing corrupt heavily-lobbied over-paid suits in the EU thought it sounded like a good idea, and perhaps a white-haired European judge would agree, but these Euro-buffoons are not the average user.

Jul 17, 2012 9:02am EDT  --  Report as abuse
fledder wrote:

I agree the browser choice screen is not neccessarily an effective solution, given that savy users already know how to install another browser. It will be non-savy users being intimidated, not helped, by this screen. I’m talking about those users not even knowing what a browser is. Who associate the blue E with “internet”.

I disagree though with your comparison with iOS or Android. It is not illegal to ship a standard browser with an OS. It’s only illegal (sometimes), when you misuse the monopoly of one market, to gain marketshare in another. For as long as you’re not a monopolist, you can ship whatever you want. That’s the difference, and this is why monopolists get this “special treatment”. Another example would be Microsoft shipping anti-virus software with Windows. It would put an entire market out of business.

You can of course debate whether Microsoft is in fact a monopoly (or better said, if Windows is), but as Microsoft is repeatedly convicted of anti-competitiveness in both the US and Europe, I’m thinking it’s not entirely made up.

As for the EU being a bloated and corrupt institution: that would be an understatement.

Jul 19, 2012 5:39pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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