Microsoft under EC's cosh in browser blocking allegations

Microsoft has agreed to comply with antitrust rules over the ability to choose between browsers on its operating systems, according to European Commissioner Joaquin Almunia.

Microsoft is currently under investigation from the EC regarding concerns that Windows blocks users from choosing web browsers other than its own, Internet Explorer.

Almunia said that in personal talks with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, assurances had been made that the Redmond firm would immediately address any concerns, regardless of the outcome of an antitrust probe. This would mean ensuring that any problems are ironed out before the release of the forthcoming Windows 8 OS.

According to Reuters, Almunia said that he is taking the allegations that Microsoft blocked other browsers “very, very seriously”.   A number of companies have now alleged that the new operating system has created difficulties with interfaces of non-default browsers.

This latest complaint is in addition to the concerns raised to Microsoft in July regarding the lack of an option screen to let PC users to choose a separate, rival browser such as Firefox or Chrome.  

Microsoft claimed that a proportion of machines had not received a ‘browser choice screen’ due to a technical glitch.  

However, Microsoft was criticised for allowing millions of machines to be shipped without due vigilance after it had already made guarantees to the EC over fair access to non-default browsers.

One expert told TechEye that the firm could expect “significant” antitrust fines if it is found guilty of blocking other browsers.