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What the EU might force Microsoft to do

In its quarterly filing with the SEC, Microsoft cautions that it may have to offer access to other browsers and potentially disable parts of Internet Explorer.

The European Union is considering forcing Microsoft to distribute rival browsers as part of Windows, the software maker disclosed in a regulatory filing this week.

As part of its quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission filed on Thursday, the software maker offered more details on the EU's statement last week that it believes Microsoft's inclusion of a browser in Windows violates antitrust law.

Microsoft said that the EU is considering forcing computer makers, known as original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs, to offer multiple browsers with new Windows PCs.

"While computer users and OEMs are already free to run any Web browsing software on Windows, the commission is considering ordering Microsoft and OEMs to obligate users to choose a particular browser when setting up a new PC," Microsoft said in the SEC filing. "Such a remedy might include a requirement that OEMs distribute multiple browsers on new Windows-based PCs. We may also be required to disable certain unspecified Internet Explorer software code if a user chooses a competing browser."

Microsoft also noted that the EU is also seeking to "impose a significant fine based on sales of Windows operating systems in the European Union."

The company reiterated that it will have the opportunity to respond in writing in the next two months and, after that, could also request a hearing.

And that's not the only area where Microsoft faces further EU action. Microsoft confirmed that an investigation into Office may still be ongoing.

"In January 2008, the commission opened an additional competition law investigation that relates primarily to interoperability with respect to our Microsoft Office family of products," Microsoft said. "This investigation resulted from complaints filed with the commission by a trade association of Microsoft's competitors."