IE monopoly ends as Microsoft’s Choice Screen arrives

4 Mar 2010

Starting this week, Microsoft will be rolling out a software update for Windows that will change the way all users access the web by default as they have an option to choose from several different web browsers rather than automatically choosing Internet Explorer.

The European Commission’s (EC) competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia welcomed the introduction of the Choice Screen, saying: “Web browsers are the gateway to the internet. Giving consumers the possibility to switch or try a browser other than that included in Windows will bring more competition and innovation in this important area to the benefit of European internet users.

“More competition between web browsers should also boost the use of open web standards, which is critical for the further development of an open internet.”

Following the Windows update, those users automatically accessing the web through Internet Explorer will be faced with a Choice Screen, giving them a selection of the five main browsers on the market: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Microsoft Internet Explorer and Opera.

The list will be presented in a random order, in keeping with the agreement with the EC following a Statement of Objections sent to Microsoft last year outlining what the Commission saw as its abuse of its dominant market position with the Windows operating system by automatically bundling the Internet Explorer web browser.

As part of this agreement to comply with Article 9 of Regulation 1/2003 on the implementation of EU antitrust rules, Microsoft will display this Choice Screen for the next five years and should the company break the agreement the EC can impose a fine of up to 10pc of its total annual turnover.

By Marie Boran

Photo: Users automatically accessing the internet through Internet Explorer will be presented with a Choice Screen that gives them a choice of five web browsers to use