The European Commission (EC) has reacted swiftly to Microsoft's intention to offer some versions of the upcoming Windows 7 operating system without Internet Explorer (IE).
Microsoft revealed plans last night to preempt an expected ruling from the EC in its anti-competition investigation, by announcing that it will offer computer manufacturers versions of Windows 7 for sale in Europe that do not include IE. But the EC said today that Microsoft's actions may not be enough.
"The Commission had suggested to Microsoft that consumers be provided with a choice of web browsers. Instead, Microsoft has apparently decided to supply retail consumers with a version of Windows without a web browser at all," the EC said in a statement. "Rather than more choice, Microsoft seems to have chosen to provide less."
The Commission cited an alternative option of shipping Windows 7 with a choice of different web browsers presented through a 'ballot screen', from where users could choose and easily install their preferred browser.
Microsoft has not ruled out the possibility of the 'ballot screen' option, but is keen to avoid delaying the rollout of its new operating system.
"Microsoft filed its response to the Commission's Statement of Objections in April. We believe we made a strong showing that including IE in Windows is lawful so that no remedy is needed," said Dave Heiner, vice president and deputy general counsel at Microsoft, in a statement.
"We hope that the Commission will ultimately agree with us. In the meantime, we have to move forward with final planning for the release of Windows 7, so we've decided that, instead of including IE in Windows 7 in Europe, we will offer it separately. As noted, we will continue to discuss browser issues and o ther matters with the Commission."
The EC said that it would "decide shortly" on the outcome of its long-running anti-competition investigation. Microsoft has yet to respond to today's reaction from the EC.
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