As expected, The European Union has levied a hefty fine against Microsoft. EU regulators issued a $732 million fine against the technology giant for failing to comply with a deal to offer browser choice to Windows users. This is the first time that the European Commission has fined a company for non-compliance with a decision.
In 2009, the EC made these commitments legally binding on Microsoft until 2014. Because Microsoft did not roll out a browser-choice screen as promised with its Windows 7 Service Pack 1 from May 2011 until July 2012, the EC estimates 15 million Windows users in the EU did not have the opportunity to choose a default Web browser other than Internet Explorer.
“In 2009, we closed our investigation about a suspected abuse of dominant position by Microsoft due to the tying of Internet Explorer to Windows by accepting commitments offered by the company,” said EC vice president in charge of competition policy Joaquin Almunia.
“Legally binding commitments reached in antitrust decisions play a very important role in our enforcement policy because they allow for rapid solutions to competition problems. Of course, such decisions require strict compliance. A failure to comply is a very serious infringement that must be sanctioned accordingly.”
Microsoft Says Sorry
According to the EC, Microsoft began offering the choice screen in March 2010 to European Windows users who have Internet Explorer set as their default Web browser. While it was implemented, the EC said the choice screen was very successful with users. The Commission reports that until November 2010, 84 million competing browsers were downloaded through it.
The EC said it took into account several factors when calculating the fine: the gravity and duration of the infringement; the need to ensure a deterrent effect of the fine; and, as a mitigating circumstance, the fact that Microsoft has…