Microsoft has announced it will release a browserless version of its latest Windows operating system in Europe in an apparent attempt to win favour with authorities threatening sanctions.
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European anti-monopoly authorities have charged Microsoft with harming browser competition by illegally bundling Internet Explorer with its Windows operating system.
The EU is considering forcing Microsoft to give Windows users a wider choice of browsers as well as imposing a financial penalty.
Legal observers believe the penalty could approach the record $1.49bn recently levied on Intel, according to the Financial Times.
Microsoft said yesterday that Windows 7 would be released in Europe without a browser to enable PC makers and consumers to install a browser of their choice.
The European Commission said it noted Microsoft's move "with interest", but that for consumers, the moved provides less choice instead of more.
The European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS), a grouping of technology companies opposed to Microsoft, said the move was a step was in the right direction, but did not go far enough.
The ECIS earlier this week accused Microsoft of understating its share of the browser market in an attempt to downplay the extent to which it has harmed competition
Microsoft was due to appear at a hearing in Brussels to add to the written defence filed in April, but said it would not attend because important European antitrust officials would be unable to attend.
If Microsoft fails to appear, European Union competition commissioner Neelie Kroes is free to make a ruling on the case.