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Microsoft starts advertising alternative web browsers

ECC ruling comes into play today
Mon Mar 01 2010, 12:19

STARTING TODAY Microsoft is legally bound to advertise alternatives to its Internet Explorer (IE) web browser, following an agreement reached with the European Competition Commission (ECC) last December.

The ECC's case has been running since 2008 and Microsoft finally signed on the dotted line on 16 December to offer alternative browsers from 1 March. The case was instigated by the ECC in a bid to break up the Vole's monopolistic abuse in the web browser market and encourage free consumer choice and innovation.

The ECC's website states that Microsoft agreed to remove barriers to competition and is mandated by the legislation for five years. What must be particularly galling for the Vole is that it has to advertise a web browser 'Choice Screen' where users can choose one of at least 12 browsers, including Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Opera, Sleipnir, Green Browser, Maxthon, Avant, Flock, K-meleon, and Slim.

Punters with IE as their default web browser and who chose 'automatically accept Windows updates' will be automatically directed to the 'Choice Screen'. If they did not choose to have software updates automatically installed, then they will be offered an option to decide whether want to receive the Choice Screen update.

The browser choice software will be installed via Windows Update and users will get a message stating, "An important choice to make: your browser." An information button will be displayed to give users a feature rundown of the optional web browsers available and, if they see anything they like, there's an install tab as well.

Just how much this scheme will eat into the Vole's currently estimated 60 per cent web browser market share is debatable, however it was not so long ago that its web browser market share was about 90 per cent.

More importantly, though, Microsoft has been held to account over its monopolistic market dominance. µ


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