Microsoft fined $731m in EU for only promoting Internet Explorer
In a case that's a first of its kind, BBC reports that Microsoft has been fined $731m by the European Commission because the company failed to promote other browsers in Windows 7 as part of an agreement. The agreement to allow users in the EU to choose browsers other than Internet Explorer came about in 2007 when the Norwegian creators of the Opera browser complained that in Europe Microsoft is stifling competition by including Internet Explorer as part of the basic OS (i.e. Windows). Microsoft finally agreed that they will be promoting other browsers until 2014 in order to avoid getting fined for abusing their position in the browser arena.
Things were going fine until Service Pack 1 for Windows 7 hit in February 2011 where the option to promote other browsers was eliminated and all copies of Windows 7 now came with Internet Explorer directly. And for the next 14 months things remained like that until the European Commission was notified of this glaring flaw, which started another 8 months investigation into Microsoft's action.
As per the original agreement, Microsoft could have been fined up to 10% of their global earnings, coming to $7.4bn according to their 2012 financial reports, but because they acknowledged the issue, relegating it to a technical error, and even helped the authorities in their investigation, the fine was mitigated significantly.
"We take full responsibility for the technical error that caused this problem and have apologised for it," a spokesman for Microsoft said following the announcement. "We provided the Commission with a complete and candid assessment of the situation, and we have taken steps to strengthen our software development and other processes to help avoid this mistake - or anything similar - in the future."
"The European Commission is sending a firm signal in this first case of its type that it will not tolerate failure by a company to comply with the commitments it gave to settle an antitrust infringement procedure," said Tony Woodgate from Simmons & Simmons.
Meanwhile an Opera representative told the BBC that they were "happy to see that the Commission is enforcing
compliance with the commitment, which is critical to ensuring a genuine
choice among web browsers for consumers".