Brussels - EU antitrust regulators are to charge Microsoft on Wednesday for breaching a 2009 order to offer a choice of web browsers to consumers, a step to a possible hefty fine in the long-running dispute with the software giant, a source familiar with the matter said.
The world's No 1 software company agreed with the European Commission three years ago to offer browser choices, in a bid to settle an antitrust investigation and avoid a penalty that could have been as much as 10% of its global turnover.
But the EU Commission, which acts as antitrust watchdog in the EU, said in July this year that Microsoft had not complied with the order between February last year and then. The company blamed the lapse on a technical problem.
EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia will hold a news conference at about 10:00 GMT to announce his decision.
Microsoft declined to comment as it had not yet seen a statement from the Commission, Microsoft spokesperson Robin Koch said.
The company faces a possible hefty fine as this is the second time that it has failed to comply with an EU decision.
A sanction could top $7.4bn or 10% of its revenues for the fiscal year ending 30 June 2012 - but the final figure is expected to be lower, as the infringement covered only a short period of time.
Microsoft's run-in with EU regulators in the last decade has landed it with fines of more than €1bn.