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Microsoft Faces Fresh Antitrust Investigation in Europe


Active Techie
Microsoft is under the lens of European Union
antitrust investigators once again after failing
to offer up to 28 million Windows users a
?browser choice screen? (BCS) that was required
for the company to avoid potentially painful
In Europe, users setting up Windows for the
first time should have been greeted with a
browser choice screen since 2009. The BCS
offers users a choice between Microsoft?s own
Internet Explorer browser and competing
products, such as Mozilla?s Firefox browser.
The browser options were set up to avoid
European charges that Microsoft was leveraging
its dominant position in the world of
operating systems to gain an unfair advantage
in the browser market.
However, the EU?s Competition Commissioner
announced Tuesday that the EU discovered the
BCS had not been appearing as required,
prompting the EU to launch a new
investigation, according to Reuters.
Microsoft quickly confirmed that the BCS wasn?t
being delivered as required and blamed the
problem on a ?technical error? affecting copies
of Windows 7 that came pre-loaded with Service
Pack 1, which were available beginning in
February of 2011.
?. . . While we believed when we filed our most
recent compliance report in December 2011
that we were distributing the BCS software to
all relevant PCs as required, we learned recently
that we?ve missed serving the BCS software to
the roughly 28 million PCs running Windows 7
SP1,? reads Microsoft?s statement. ?While we
have taken immediate steps to remedy this
problem, we deeply regret that this error
occurred and we apologize for it.?
Once notified of the problem, Microsoft took
several steps to fix the issue and placate the
EU?s antitrust team: it designed and began
issuing a patch (which should be fully rolled
out by the end of the week), it launched an
outside investigation into the problem and it
offered to extend the BCS compliance period
for a little more than a year beyond the
currently required 2014 cut-off date.
The company, however, confirmed that it may
still face fines from the EU as a result of the
Microsoft was fined $1.10 billion by the
European Union in 2008 for breaching the
terms of an earlier antitrust decision.