Micrsoft EU case 'to be settled next week'

Sources say software giant's new plans for browser competition on Windows will be approved by Commission
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Microsoft could end its decade-long antitrust dispute with the European Commission next week, as EU regulators are poised to accept the company’s amended offer to allow consumers a choice of internet browsers.

Sources told Reuters that the Commission is expected on Tuesday to approve Microsoft's plan to make it easier for consumers to choose rival browsers on Windows.

The software giant changed its proposal for a second time after rival browser makers Google and Opera complained that the solution announced on 7 October would not be effective. Microsoft has reportedly make two changes since then.

"The order of the browsers will be randomly presented instead of alphabetically in the original proposal. The presentation of the ballot screen is as neutral as possible," one of Reuters’ sources said. "A decision could come as early as next week during the last meeting of the college of commissioners for this year."

Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd said: "The Commission will not accept any commitments unless consumers are ensured a real, viable choice.”

Norwegian firm Opera, which sparked the EU probe in 2007 when it complained about Microsoft linking Internet Explorer to Windows, said the changes would benefit users.

"Those two changes, if indeed it appears to be the case, are an improvement on the previous proposal. They are significant and would be helpful to users," chief technology officer Hakon Wium Lie told Reuters.

Microsoft was previously fined a total of €1.68 billion euros for breaching EU antitrust laws.

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