Microsoft have quite a history with the European Commission, the EU’s anti trust regulators. Back in 2009 they signed a deal to include a browser ballot screen with every copy of its Windows Operating System, following a competition investigation by the Commission into the software giant. Now the company have been fined 561 million euros, or $732 million due to violations of that 2009 anti-trust agreement.
Microsoft were forced by the Commission to include a browser ballot screen with every copy of Windows sold to consumers in the European Union which would offer the chance to download an alternative browser. This was done because Microsoft was found guilty of anti-competitive behavior when including its own Internet Explorer browser.
The fine comes after it was discovered that the ballot screen was not shown to a number of Windows 7 users. Microsoft blamed a technical error for this situation. They have since sent out an update to the affected Windows 7 PCs. It has also said it will continue to show the ballot screen beyond the previously agreed to time period.
That was not sufficient for the Commission who hit Microsoft with another huge fine. Competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia said the action from Microsoft was unprecedented, adding he wanted to deter any company from the “temptation” of reneging on such a promise in the future.
This announcement takes the total level of fines imposed by the European Commission on Microsoft past the three billion dollar mark since 2004. The browser ballot screen also appears to have had little success as the use of browsers in the EU has remained relatively unchanged. Microsoft will also be looking to move on with their latest browser built for Windows 8 and touch.
Thanks for reading,