Microsoft, EU agree on browser settlement

Microsoft has finally settled a long running issue between the software maker and European regulators, agreeing to offer a randomized list of different browsers that users can choose from upon initial setup.

Neelie Kroes, European competition commissioner, announced the agreement during a recent press conference, ending Microsoft’s latest brush with the EC.  In October 2007, the company agreed to pay a $2.44 billion fine to settle an antitrust case that dated back to 1997.

“Millions of European consumers will benefit from this decision by having a free choice about which Web browser they use,” Kroes said in a press statement.

Microsoft also released a statement, noting it is “pleased” that it has been able to work out the browser problem with European regulators.

Last month, Microsoft and regulators reached an agreement, but Mozilla, Google and Opera attempted to disrupt the Microsoft proposal.  Microsoft said it would offer a ballot screen so users can pick which Internet browser is used, but the list wasn’t randomized — it now is, which allowed Microsoft to press forward.

I’ve applauded the European Commission on cracking down upon companies, but there are still some issues that must be cleared up.  As Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer noted in the past, what foreign companies, including Microsoft, Google and Yahoo, can and cannot do in Europe remains confusing.

As these American companies continue to expand business overseas, the EC said it will continue to work with Microsoft, Oracle, Google, and others.