Microsoft Relents to EU and Offers to Add Rival Browsers

U.S. software giant Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) offered to include its competitors’ web browsers in its Windows software to settle European Commission’s antitrust case and avoid anti-trust fines in the European Union [EU], news financial service Bloomberg reported Friday, citing the European Commission.

Wash. Redmond-based Microsoft, which has been accused by the EU commission of abusing its market position — from 1996 to date — by bundling its explorer software in the Windows operating package, agreed Friday to let European users of Windows pick a Web browser other than its own Internet Explorer.

In a series of negotiations Microsoft—which had earlier argued that the so-called ballot screen, a solution that allows consumers to choose from different web browsers presented to them,  was too onerous a requirement—relented.

The European Commission said in a statement that it welcomes Microsoft’s move and would “investigate its practical effectiveness.” The EU commission’s goal in M’soft’s  browser tying antitrust case has always been that of finding a remedy that would create a genuine consumer choice. A goal that finally appears very close to being reached by the organization.

“Microsoft is basically capitulating,” said Matt Rosoff, an analyst at Kirkland, Washington-based Directions on Microsoft. “Microsoft was able to absorb fines and be more aggressive with their legal strategy when business was good, but when you’re looking at ongoing fines in a downturn, it makes more sense to settle.”[Bloomberg]

Microsoft, which plans to roll out Windows 7 in October, said that if the EU accepts the proposed settlement, it will begin shipping versions of Windows with the option in Europe.

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