Microsoft set for EU Internet Explorer U-turn as EC investigates breach

Microsoft will introduce browser choice in Windows 7 in the EU to comply with a 2009 IE anti-trust settlement the EC says it breached in July 2012

Microsoft is expected to comply with its obligation to offer browser choice in the European Union (EU).

Microsoft admitted a failure to comply with anti-competition regulations in July 2012.

Joaquin Almunia, vice-president of the European Commission (EC) responsible for competition policy, announced he would investigate Microsoft's failure to comply with EC anti-trust rules relating to the Internet Explorer browser.

Microsoft's Windows 7 service pack, which shipped in February 2011, removed the browser choice screen. This infringed the terms of the anti-competitive settlement the EU imposed on Microsoft in December 2009.

According to a report on Reuters, Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer has given Almunia assurances Microsoft would comply immediately, regardless of the conclusion of the anti-trust probe.

This is the latest step-down by Microsoft as it fights to retain market share of its Internet Explorer browser built into Windows. 

Web analytics firm StatCounter reported in July that Google’s Chrome browser was becoming more popular than Microsoft Internet Explorer, although IE is still prevalent in the US and UK.

Joaquin Almunia is said to be looking closely at Microsoft's latest operating system release, Windows 8, which includes Internet Explorer 10. Windows 8 is due to start shipping on October 26 2012.

While good for consumers, browser choice increases website development, as businesses need to test their site against multiple browsers due to the subtle differences in how different browsers render standard HTML.

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