As part of its Wednesday press briefing explaining the statement of objections that the European Union (EU) sent to Microsoft with regards to its browser-choice commitments in Windows 7, the European Commission’s (EC's) Joaquín Almunia also addressed Windows 8. He said that the EU would not intervene as a result of complaints from competing browser makers about Windows 8. But he is requiring Microsoft to make some changes to Windows 8’s browser choice screen.
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“Third parties have been raising various issues about other aspects of Microsoft’s compliance,” Almunia said during the press briefing. “We have carefully looked at them during the investigation and we don’t see grounds at this point for further intervention.”
You might recall that Google and Mozilla complained in May that Windows RT, the ARM-based version of Windows 8, doesn't support any desktop browser other than Microsoft’s. Furthermore, the firms said that Microsoft was limiting the capabilities of third-party Metro-style browsers on both Windows 8 and Windows RT. (See "Mozilla, Google Gripe about Windows RT Limitations" for more information.) In July, the EU said that it would investigate Windows 8 to determine whether Microsoft was unfairly inhibiting competition.
Almunia said that the EU would of course continue to monitor all aspects of Microsoft’s compliance in the future. And although the press briefing was primarily about the EC’s filing of a statement of objections with Microsoft because the software maker mysteriously stopped delivering a browser ballot screen in Windows 7 to EU consumers for almost 18 months, Almunia also addressed Windows 8 compliance with this requirement.
“It’s important that the browser-choice screen operates in a way that does not disadvantage rival browsers,” Almunia said Wednesday. “We have raised issues with Microsoft related to Windows 8. If a user decides to set a rival browser as the default browser [in Windows 8], there should not be unnecessary warning windows, or confirmations by the user. And the Internet Explorer [tile] should be unpinned from the Start screen. We expect Microsoft to address these issues.”
To that effect, Microsoft issued the following statement to me on Wednesday.
“After discussions with the Commission, we are changing some aspects of the way the Browser Choice Screen works on Windows 8 and will have those changes implemented when Windows 8 launches later this week.”