Europe, Microsoft to Test “No Browser Left Behind” Scheme
Microsoft’s proposed antitrust concessions, particularly its offer to give European computer users a choice of Web browsers, appear to have gone over well with the European Commission. This morning, the EC announced a market test of the browser ballot feature Microsoft plans to include in Windows 7. If it’s successful, the feature will become standard in European versions of Windows and resolve the ongoing antitrust case in which the EC accused the American firm of abusing its Windows monopoly.
“I’m absolutely of the opinion that this is a trustful deal that we’re making. I trust Microsoft,” Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said during a press conference this morning. “There can’t be a misunderstanding. Here is the final result of a long discussion over a long period.”
Microsoft (MSFT) was equally upbeat on the EC’s decision. “We welcome today’s announcement by the European Commission to move forward with formal market testing of Microsoft’s proposal relating to web browser choice in Europe,” General Counsel Brad Smith said in a statement. “We also welcome the opportunity to take the next step in the process regarding our proposal to promote interoperability with a broad range of our products.”
There were, however, a few that were not so welcoming of the move. Top among them, ECIS, an industry group whose members include Oracle (ORCL), Sun (JAVA), IBM (IBM) and Nokia (NOK). “ECIS notes that the settlement does not appear to deal with the inadequacies of Microsoft’s standards compliance, unfair pricing practices or other concerns related to patent abuse or standards manipulation,” the group said in a statement.