Earlier this year, the European Commission designated Microsoft One of six giant tech companies to qualify as “gatekeepers.” Under the terms of the Digital Markets Act.
Under the DMA, which was enacted in 2022, owners of key platform services that connect businesses to end consumers have specific obligations to refrain from using their “dominant and sustained position” to impose unfair terms on consumers. According to the commission, companies identified as gatekeepers must “actively implement certain behaviors that make markets more open and competitive”.
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Microsoft’s Windows joins Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS to make the list of operating systems that qualify as gatekeepers. The company responded to the commission’s design today Outlined changes to do this in Windows and related apps To comply with the DMA. Many of the changes only apply to PCs running the version of Windows identified during setup as European Economic Area (EEA). Microsoft says that the region used for DMA compliance can only be changed by reinstalling Windows and resetting the PC to another region.
Changes include the following:
- Windows will now explicitly identify functionality within the operating system. settings > method > system components Label OS components, and the All Apps list in the Start menu has been renamed to “System” with Operating System components. Search results will also display that label for operating system components.
- Some apps bundled with Windows now have an uninstall option. That list includes the Camera, Photos, and Cortana apps. In the EEA only, Windows users will have the option to uninstall Microsoft Edge and Web Search from the Microsoft Bing component.
- In versions of Windows for EEA, developers will be able to specify alternative providers for web searches using feeds in the Windows search box as well as Windows Widget boards, and will ask Windows users if they want to allow Windows to use their Microsoft account for others using the same account. Sync data with Windows devices and Microsoft products.
- Regarding changes to default app settings, Microsoft notes that apps may prompt customers to change app defaults by opening Windows Settings on the app’s default page. In the EEA, the company says, “Windows will always use customer-configured app default settings for links and file types, including industry standard browser link types (http, https). Apps choose how to open content in Windows and some Microsoft. Apps will choose to open web content in Microsoft Edge.”
- Finally, the Copilot in Windows feature in preview in Windows 11 version 23H2 will not be available in the EEA, currently limited to North America, the UK, and parts of Asia and South America.
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Microsoft says the changes it is introducing are rolling out in the Release Preview channel in Windows 11, with previews for updates to Windows 10 later. The company said it will complete these updates in the EEA by March 6, 2024.