Microsoft admitted today that a "technical error" had prevented 28 million PCs running Windows 7 Service Pack 1 from seeing a browser choice screen. The screen, added to Windows after the company was found to have abused its dominance in the market with Internet Explorer, is designed to offer Windows users a choice of alternative web browsers. The European Commission said earlier today that Microsoft had failed to comply with its 2009 browser choice commitment and a company spokesperson has revealed that it has "taken immediate steps to remedy" the problem.

Microsoft says it is now distributing the software with the correct browser choice option and has offered to extend its compliance period for an additional 15 months in an attempt to appease the European Commission. "We deeply regret that this error occurred and we apologise for it," says a Microsoft spokesperson. Microsoft says it has a third-party conducting a "formal investigation" into how the technical error occurred. "We have asked them to prepare a full report when their work is complete," says a spokesperson. "They will provide this report to the European Commission."

While other browser makers have complained about Microsoft's browser choice efforts in its Metro style Windows 8 environment, Microsoft may face an additional fine for its "technical error" with Windows 7 SP1. The European Commission says that if a company is found to have breached legally binding commitments, it may be fined up to 10% of its total annual turnover.