Competition: Microsoft Fine

EU Competition Commission announces details of Microsoft fines


The EU’s Competition Commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, has said he is imposing a multi-million euro fine on software giant Microsoft for failing to comply with existing EU rulings.


Announcing the €561m fine on 6 March 2013, Commissioner Almunia criticised Microsoft’s policy of failing to promote a range of web browsers rather than just Internet Explorer to users in the EU.


A previous investigation by the EU saw Microsoft introduce a “”Browser Choice Screen pop-up”” in March 2010, something that was dropped in a Windows 7 update in February 2011.


Microsoft blamed this on a “”technical error”” for which it took “”full responsibility””.


Commissioner Almunia said the fine was punishment for “”a serious breach””, highlighting that this was the first time a company had failed to meet commitments given to the EU in this way.


The case dates back to 2007 when Opera – a Norwegian web-browser maker – complained Microsoft was stifling competition on PCs by bundling Internet Explorer with its operating system.


Microsoft initially argued that the move benefited users, but after the European Commission issued a preliminary report suggesting the firm had abused its position, the company agreed to offer a choice of browser until at least 2014 to avoid risking a fine.


However, this option was missing from its Windows 7 Service Pack 1 released in 2011 and it continued to be absent for 14 months.