European Union Competition announced of dropping antitrust charges against Microsoft, after the redmond software company agreed to give Windows OS users a choice of up to 12 other Web browsers, including Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Apple’s Safari and Opera. EU Commissioner said that millions of European consumers will benefit from this decision by gaining “free browser choice”, and that it’ll also spur browser makers “to innovate and offer people better browsers in the future”. Under settlement agreement, Microsoft’ll need to implement a ballot screen that lets users in Europe replace Internet Explorer with another browser, starting March 2010. If it honors the agreement, Microsoft will avoid further EU fines. Microsoft has already paid €1.68 billion ($2.44 billion) in fines over EU antitrust actions in the past 10 years. In a news release, Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner called the outcome “a victory for the future of the Web.” “The most important question that we look at is whether a feature has APIs, or application programming interfaces, that are going to be important to the developers of Windows applications,” explained Brad Smith.