Microsoft has had something of a rocky relationship with EU regulators in the past. Amid concerns over anti-trust violations and other infringements of corporate law, Redmond has had a number of restrictions placed on the means by which it conducts itself in Europe, perhaps most significantly this was displayed in the case of the Windows browser dispute.
The issue involved Microsoft being the only internationally significant distributor of computer software in Europe. Their bundling of Internet Explorer as the default browser for new computers sold in Europe constituted an abuse of their monopoly over consumer software, and as such, the EU regulatory agencies and Microsoft worked together to find a solution. That was implemented in 2009 -- called the 'Browser Choice'. Upon starting their newly purchased Windows machines, users would find themselves prompted to choose among a dozen or so browsers to act as their default. Redmond agreed to adhere to this standard of practice for a period of five years, after which they would be under no obligation to continue.
This period has now passed, and as was expected this practice has ceased. This is a welcome change both for users and Microsoft, for though the idea was tidy in theory, it was messy in practice. The decision barely made a dent in European browser usage, moreover the market has changed massively since 2009, and previous big beasts such as Firefox now find themselves at the mercy of the likes of Google (the new EC whipping boys), being as the market now has a semblance of balance between at least two major players.
Now with Google in the limelight over search engine monopoly concerns, the road ahead now seems safe for Redmond, at least with regards to the EU. What is for sure is that, in future, Microsoft will tread just a little more lightly when walking on European soil.
Are you pleased to see the end of the Browser Choice? Let us know in the comments below.