Microsoft no longer needs to remind EU Windows users they have a browser choice

Microsoft is no longer legally required to remind Windows users in the European Union that they have a choice of browsers beyond IE, as has been the case for the past five years.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

For the past five years, Microsoft has been required to notify Windows users in Europe that they had a choice of browsers via a "Browser Choice" screen.

But that requirement -- imposed on Microsoft as part of an antitrust settlement with European authorities -- has run its course.

As of this month, Microsoft no longer needs to notify European users buying Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8 machines that they can opt to install Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari or Opera's Opera browser instead of or in addition to Microsoft's own Internet Explorer, which comes bundled with Windows.

Microsoft quietly noted the expiration of the browser choice requirement via a Knowledge Base (KB) support note, entitled "Information about the Browser Choice update for system administrators who are in managed environments that are under a Volume Licensing program."

(Thanks to @alanburchill for a tweet linking to that KB article.)

Microsoft was fined by the European Commission $731 million in March 2013 for omitting the browser choice screen on new machines preloaded Windows 7 between February 2011 and July 2012. Both former CEO Steve Ballmer and former Windows chief Steven Sinofsky were dinged, compensation-wise, for the "technical error" that caused Microsoft to leave off the browser choice notification from those Windows machines.

In 2009, Microsoft was found by European antitrust authorities to have abused its dominant operating-system market position by bundling Internet Explorer with the desktop software. Microsoft settled the case with Europe, and agreed to provide Windows users there with a browser choice screen, as of February 2010.

Editorial standards