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EU reminds Microsoft to offer browser choices on Windows 8 (+video)

European Union antitrust regulators have warned Microsoft that it must offer consumers a choice of rival browsers in its new Windows 8 operating system. 

Microsoft has been charged by EU regulators with breaking their promise to offer a rival browser with their new operating system Windows 8.
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EU antitrust regulators warned Microsoft not to repeat the mistake of denying consumers a choice of rival browsers in its new Windows software, in a dispute that has already cost the software giant more than a billion euros in fines over a decade.

EU antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia said on Wednesday he had spelt out his concerns to Microsoft about Windows 8, its updated flagship software set for release on Friday.

"I have precisely transmitted ... my concerns, what kind of presentation should be avoided if they don't want to take the risk of a new investigation," Almunia told a news briefing.

The EU competition commissioner's warning accompanied charges Microsoft had broken a promise to offer European consumers a choice of rival browsers in its previous version of Windows, which could result in a substantial fine.

Microsoft promised three years ago to offer browser choices, to settle an EU antitrust investigation and avoid a penalty that could have been as much as 10 percent of its global turnover.

But the EU Commission, which acts as antitrust watchdog in the European Union, said Microsoft had not fulfilled its pledge between February last year and July this year, confirming an earlier Reuters report.

Almunia said Microsoft must face the music.

"If companies enter into commitments, they must do what they are committed to do or face the consequences. Companies should be deterred from any temptation to renege on promises or even to neglect their duty," he told the briefing.

Microsoft could face a significant fine as it is the second time it has failed to comply with an EU order.

A sanction could top $7.4 billion or 10 percent of its revenues for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012 - but the final figure is expected to be lower, as the infringement covered a relatively short period of time.

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