Microsoft threatened with Windows 8 tablet antitrust probe

Internet Explorer

Microsoft could find itself at the centre of a fresh EU antitrust probe, with regulators set to investigate whether the software giant needs to offer Windows 8 tablet users a choice of web browsers.

The vendor had agreed with the EU in 2009 to offer PC buyers a choice of 12 internet browsers to install in addition to, or instead of, Internet Explorer.

The firm has recently come under fire from the EU after it emerged that some end users, who purchased PCs running Windows 7 Service Pack 1, were not offered a choice of Internet Explorer alternatives.

We are working with the commission to answer any questions.

Microsoft has blamed the omission, which is thought to have affected 28 million PCs, on a technical glitch.

However, according to a report on Bloomberg, the EU is planning to investigate whether or not the tablet versions of Windows 8 will need to offer consumers a choice of alternative browsers.

"We will need to look at this," Joaquin Almunia, the EU's competition commissioner told Bloomberg.

Rival web browser software vendor Mozilla has previously claimed that Windows RT, the tablet version of Microsoft's Windows 8 software, will only let users access the web via Internet Explorer.

In response to the claims, Microsoft spokesperson Robin Koch told Bloomberg that the company is "confident" that Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Phone will offer "customers choice in a very competitive market."

Koch added: "We are working with the commission to answer any questions it may have."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.