Microsoft also said it has hired "outside counsel" to conduct an investigation into how the problem occurred and will share the results of that investigation with European Commissioners. It also has offered to extend by 15 months the five-year compliance period Microsoft agreed to in the 2009 agreement.
European Commission's Almunia, in his statement, noted that Microsoft submitted a compliance report to the Commission in December 2011 saying the browser choice screen software was present, even though it was missing from PCs using Windows 7 SP1. Microsoft said that when it submitted the report, it believed it was distributing the browser choice screen software "to all relevant PCs as required."
While acknowledging that Microsoft has admitted to the facts in the case, Almunia said the European Commission was "opening formal proceedings" against Microsoft, and a confirmation of a breach of the agreement "could have severe consequences."
"Generally speaking, I consider that commitments by companies themselves are a good way to solve competition problems when we identify them, as an alternative to lengthy proceedings," Almunia said. "This is true especially in fast-moving markets such as in the IT sector. But this can only work if companies implement these commitments fully."
PUBLISHED JULY 17, 2012