Microsoft agrees to offer browser choice on Windows 8

September 10, 2012

European antitrust regulators are currently investigating whether Microsoft has blocked third-parties from installing rival browsers on Windows 8, although the head of the probe believes Microsoft will comply with these EU regulations sooner rather than later.

“In my personal talks with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer he has given me assurances that they will comply immediately regardless of the conclusion of the antitrust probe,” said European commissioner Joaquin Almunia, when speaking at an economic conference in Italy, according to Reuters.

The European Commission opened the investigation in July after the Redmond software giant allegedly failed to offer the same choice of rival web browsers it had agreed with regulators three years ago. The officials also then begun investigating whether Microsoft was providing all access to complete interfaces (APIs) to third-party browsers for Windows 8.

This last point was a hot topic for both Mozilla and Google in May, with Mozilla in particular claiming third-party browsers were being limited to basic ‘Metro’ browsers on Windows RT (the ARM-version of Windows 8). In contrast, the firm revealed that Microsoft’s own Internet Explorer was the only browser able to run the classic desktop style on the same platform.

Microsoft has now moved to rectify the situation with a "browser ballot screen" for Windows 8, and may yet be forced to open up all the APIs for third-party browser developers on Windows RT. It remains to be seen, however, if this will save Microsoft from a hefty fine from the European Commission.

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