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October 24, 2012 at 7:13 AM

EU charges Microsoft with antitrust violation over browser selection

[Updated with Microsoft statements at end]

European Union regulators on Wednesday charged Microsoft with an antitrust violation for not keeping a commitment it made in 2009 to provide a browser choice screen allowing users to select a browser other than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, according to The New York Times.

The charge opens Microsoft up to a substantial fine, according to The New York Times.

Microsoft had issued a statement in July when the EU opened the investigation. The company acknowledged then that it had “fallen short in our responsibility” to provide a browser choice screen, attributing it to a technical error. “While we have taken immediate steps to remedy this problem, we deeply regret that this error occurred and we apologize for it.”

Both Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Windows President Steven Sinofsky were dinged by the Microsoft board recently for that error. The board declined to give them their full bonuses, citing the lack of browser choice screen on some PCs in the EU as one of the reasons.

Microsoft issued a statement, saying:

We take this matter very seriously and moved quickly to address this problem as soon as we became aware of it. Although this was the result of a technical error, we take responsibility for what happened, and we have taken steps to strengthen our internal procedures to help ensure something like this cannot happen again. We sincerely apologize for this mistake and will continue to cooperate fully with the Commission.

Microsoft issued this additional statement:

After discussions with the Commission, we are changing some aspects of the way the Browser Choice Screen works on Windows 8 and will have those changes implemented when Windows 8 launches later this week.

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