Oh, the things Redmond has to do for Internet Explorer. Microsoft recently got into a bit of tangle with competition regulators in Europe over the company’s violations of an antitrust agreement with the EU that it signed in 2009.
The European Union competition regulators were investigating the company’s failure to provide users with a browser choice screen to Windows 7 users in the Old Continent. The ballot box listed 12 of the most popular web browsers, but was removed in Windows 7 Service Pack 1.
The verdict arrived earlier today, and the commission has decided to fine Microsoft to the tune of €561 million — or US $731 million.
This is the first time that the European Commission has fined a company for not complying with a previous antitrust agreement. According to Reuters, Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia was quoted as saying:
“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 has maintained that it was a software glitch that led broke its agreement of offering Internet Explorer alternatives to European users. Nevertheless, the company maintains that it will pay the fine in full without further appeals.
In a statement the technology titan said that it respects EU’s decision:
“We take full responsibility for the technical error that caused this problem and have apologized for it. 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.”
A $731 million penalty amounts to almost 1 percent of Microsoft’s global revenue — some industry insiders were suggesting it could have been as high as 10 percent, which would have been downright ridiculous. Not that this amount is not.
Your thoughts on this matter, then? Is this a fair fine for the sake of equality or just a nippy way to extract some cold coins from a multi-billion dollar company? Share your views below.