Microsoft browser pledge to head off European Union fine

COMPUTER software giant Microsoft is to allow consumers to use rival web browsers on its flagship Windows system to head off a fine for a possible breach of European competition law.

Microsoft has agreed to offer web-surfers alternatives to its Internet Explorer browser to allay European Commission concerns that it may have flouted EU competition rules by forcing Windows users to use Internet Explorer.

The commission said the US group would also allow computer makers and users to fit other web browsers and turn Internet Explorer off.

Brussels told Microsoft in January of its concerns and warned the firm it could face a fine of up to 10 per cent of its annual turnover if it fails to stick to the rules.

The commission said the concessions by Microsoft would boost innovation and competition.

Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: “Millions of European consumers will benefit from this decision by having a free choice about which web browser they use.”

Microsoft welcomed the commission’s decision to accept its remedies.

Senior vice president and general counsel of Microsoft, Brad Smith, said: “We believe these are important steps that resolve these competition law concerns.”