July 17, 2012 - 16:13 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The European Commission (EC) has revealed that it will open an investigation into whether Microsoft is complying with a 2009 browser choice commitment, after the firm failed to let users pick their preferred web browser, The Inquirer reports.
According to the EC, Microsoft might have failed to offer the web browser choice screen when it rolled-out Windows 7 Server Pack 1 in February 2011, despite affirming that it had in December that year.
However, the EC says that Microsoft has recently acknowledged that the choice screen was not displayed during that period.
"We take compliance with our decisions very seriously. And I trusted the company's reports were accurate. But it seems that was not the case, so we have immediately taken action. If following our investigation, the infringement is confirmed, Microsoft should expect sanctions", said Joaquín Almunia, VP of the European Commission in charge of competition policy.
The EC says that Microsoft could be fined up to 10 per cent of its annual turnover, which if calculated on its recent revenues would work out to an impressive £7bn, adding that it will "treat the case as a matter of priority".
Microsoft responded to the news, saying, "Microsoft is required to display a 'Browser Choice Screen' (BCS) on Windows PCs in Europe where Internet Explorer is the default browser. We have fallen short in our responsibility to do this. Due to a technical error, we missed delivering the BCS software to PCs that came with the service pack 1 update to Windows 7. While we have taken immediate steps to remedy this problem, we deeply regret that this error occurred and we apologize for it."
Things could also get worse for Microsoft, The Inquirer says. It was revealed back in May that Microsoft will only allow Internet Explorer to run on Windows RT, locking out Google, Mozilla and Opera web browsers.
Harvey Anderson, Mozilla's general counsel blasted Microsoft for abandoning competition, saying, "The upcoming release of Windows for the ARM processor architecture and Microsoft's browser practices regarding Windows 8 Metro signal an unwelcome return to the digital dark ages where users and developers didn't have browser choices."