BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (BNO NEWS) -- The European Union (EU) on Tuesday announced its Commission has launched an antitrust probe against global software company Microsoft Corp. to determine whether its Windows users are given the option to choose their preferred web browser.
The European Commission's investigation is seeking to verify whether the global tech company has failed to comply with its commitments made in December 2009 to offer users of operating system Windows a choice screen enabling them to easily choose their preferred web browser.
The Commission believes that Microsoft may have failed to roll out a web browser 'choice screen' with Windows 7 Service Pack 1, which was released in February 2011, according to information it has received. The choice screen enables Windows users to choose which web browser to install, and Microsoft had previously committed to make it available for five years, until 2014, in the 30-nation European Economic Area.
In January 2009, the Commission informed Microsoft of its preliminary view that the company abused its dominant position in the market for client PC operating systems through the tying of Internet Explorer to Windows. The company indicated in its annual compliance report in December 2011 that it was in compliance with its commitments to the European Commission.
But Microsoft recently acknowledged that the choice screen has not been displayed, despite earlier saying it had been. "Millions of Windows users in the EU may have not seen the choice screen," the European Commission said in a statement released by the European Union on Tuesday.
Joaquín Almunia, Vice President of the Commission in charge of competition policy, underlined that the Commission takes compliance decisions 'very seriously.' "I trusted the company's reports were accurate. But it seems that was not the case, so we have immediately taken action," he said. "If following our investigation, the infringement is confirmed, Microsoft should expect sanctions."
If it is found that a company has breached legally binding commitments, it may be fined up to 10 percent of its total annual turnover.
In May, web browser Google Chrome overtook Internet Explorer for the first time in terms of usage, making it the world's most popular web browser, according to StatCounter, which analyzes web traffic. New figures show Chrome's global market share increased to 32.76 percent in June, slightly more than Internet Explorer's 32.31 percent. The market share of Mozilla's Firefox has continued to drop, now at 24.56 percent.
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