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EC set to charge Microsoft over browser ballot gaffe

27 Sep 2012
Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 logo

The European Commission (EC) is on the cusp of charging Microsoft for failing to adhere to its promise to provide all users of its software with the browser ballot choice screen.

The firm was first compelled to provide this option in 2009, following competition concerns over the bundling of Internet Explorer (IE) with Windows, without informing users other browsers, such as Firefox and Chrome, were available.

Earlier this year it came to light a Microsoft Service Pack upgrade had not included the browser ballot. Microsoft admitted the oversight, prompting the EC to investigate.

Now, speaking in Warsaw, EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia has confirmed official proceedings against Microsoft will begin, according to Reuters.

"The next step is to open a formal proceeding into the company's breach of an agreement," he said.

"It should not be a long investigation because the company itself explicitly recognised its breach of the agreement."

Fines of as much as 10 percent of Microsoft's annual turnover could be levied against the firm which would amount to several billion dollars, although it's unlikely the EC would hit the software giant with the full extent of its powers.

Browsers are proving troublesome for Microsoft at present. It also faces issues relates to the availability of rival services on the Windows RT version of Windows 8.

However, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has said the firm will work to avoid any problems.

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Dan Worth

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

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