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EU looks to punish Microsoft for browser non-compliance, and make a bit of extra revenue in the process

To date the European Union's antitrust regulatory body, the European Commission (EC), has pummeled operating system maker Microsoft Corp. (MSFTwith €1.6B ($2.1B USD) in fines for allegedly using abusive anticompetitive tactics in the European market.  But the EU is far from done.

According to Reuters, highly placed sources in the EC say that Microsoft will face more fines before the end of the month.  The commission's pending decision follows a so-called "statement of objections" filed last October.  One source at the EC comments, "The Commission is planning to fine Microsoft before the Easter break."

The planned action could slip a week or two, though, due to procedural issues.

Microsoft was mandated by the EU to provide a browser selection screen with Windows 7.  It did, but the browser selection screen mysteriously stopped working with Windows 7's first service pack.  Microsoft claims this was due to a "coding error".

Browser Ballot Box
Microsoft's Windows 7 Service Pack 1 "accidentally" turned off the browser ballot box.
[Image Source: Telegraph UK]

 
That little "whoops" and Microsoft's baffling decision to test the EU's resolve, declining to rush a fix may cost Microsoft dearly.  Experts say Microsoft could potentially face a billion dollar fine or more.

Microsoft's board is unhappy with CEO Steve Ballmer for failing to address the issue.  In an annual proxy statement filed last October it cited that as one reason for cutting the rambunctious chief's bonus (this was not the first time Mr. Ballmer had his bonus cut for mistakes).

The EC's decision to mandate a browser choice screen dates back to 2009 when Microsoft had more of a dominant position in the EU browser market.  Today Microsoft is in third place with only about 24 percent of the market, behind Google Inc.'s (GOOG) 35 percent and Mozilla's 29 percent.  The browser selection screen appeared to be a key driving factor in Microsoft's slipping market share.

Some argue that Microsoft's trailing position makes the decision to continue browser selection screen enforcement unfair.  Others argue that Microsoft's dominant market share with Windows would be too dangerous were it not for continued enforcement.

Source: Reuters



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By half_duplex on 3/1/2013 1:38:08 PM , Rating: 2
EU needs cash, and this is the route they've decided to take. The UK is already starting to grumble about the way Amazon and Google are doing business.

Bottom line, EU hasn't been able to compete with American companies... so they are fining them.


RE: And they are still trying to block competition
By A11 on 3/1/13, Rating: -1
By NellyFromMA on 3/1/2013 3:12:12 PM , Rating: 2
European ignorance is bliss? So it seems.


By maugrimtr on 3/4/2013 9:22:27 AM , Rating: 3
It's ridiculous that the concept of the EU actually upholding its laws is somehow viewed as bad. Would you prefer if the EU allowed laws to be broken? Microsoft knew in advance that would be fined if they continued to remain non compliant.

Down rate away, morons.


By FiveTenths on 3/1/2013 2:52:12 PM , Rating: 2
I'd say you are severely understating BP's "scew up"

The EU and Microsoft have already been down this road and MS paid. Now the EU is broke and looking for cash.


By NellyFromMA on 3/1/2013 3:15:44 PM , Rating: 2
Lets not forget the fact that Microsoft has caused NO ONE harm. In fact, it created an entire ecosystem that hadn't even existed before so that cry baby EU companies could have an opportunity to even cry foul to begin with.

BP, on the other hand, destroyed an entire ecosystem and many living things.

If you think those are comparable, you CRAZY FOO.


By michael67 on 3/2/2013 8:23:59 PM , Rating: 2
You forgetting that BP was not the only one screwing up Halliburton was responsible for the cement-plug, and the company man from BP is responsible. (final responsible man onboard on all dissensions)

I have work offshore on platforms, and even do the company man is responsible, he is not all knowing, and leaves some tings over to external experts and rely on there expertise.

So even do BP is fully responsible, some of the blame should also be lay with Halliburton, as they are the experts on the plug.


By eldakka on 3/3/2013 9:40:40 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The EU and Microsoft have already been down this road and MS paid. Now the EU is broke and looking for cash.


Actually they haven't.

The 'payment' from the anti-trust proceedings required several things:
1) Cash fine.
2) Browser selection process on windows
3) Not sure, other stuff,

MS did 1), they failed to honour 2). Therefore they have not 'paid' up as they have not fully complied with the order.

Now they are being fined for not paying up, for breaching condition 2.

This is not even a judgement call like the whole anti-trust process required. It doesn't require objective expert witnesses, economic analysis, not even an investigation/judgement as to whether MS is still a monopoly. It's pretty straightforward:

A) Microsoft were ordered to and agreed to provide the user with the browser selection process.
B) Microsoft failed to provide that browser selection process.

A+B=fine


By NellyFromMA on 3/1/2013 3:14:08 PM , Rating: 2
LOL! BP totally botched the oil spill. They destroyed the ecosystem in that area for a long time, and NO AMMOUNT of smiling people in commercials will change the reality of that.

I'm in no way an environment-at-all-costs type of guy but seriously, that was a travesty.

BP Milkin LMAO have a crumpet. Lets have an oil spill off the English territories and see how you like it.


By Solandri on 3/1/2013 7:25:56 PM , Rating: 4
The local damage was heavy, and I'm keeping an eye on researchers' reports of the effect of dissolved oil carpeting the ocean floor. But oil in the ecosystem is normal.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petroleum_seep

Natural oil seeps in the Gulf of Mexico will in 1-5 years release as much oil into the ocean as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. It just won't be all concentrated in one place like the BP spill (which is why the local damage was heavy).


By Trisped on 3/1/2013 3:36:38 PM , Rating: 2
Billions of dollars in damage, and that is just people affected (jobs, property, health, etc.). BP should have followed the directions instead of cutting corners.


By JKflipflop98 on 3/1/2013 7:44:18 PM , Rating: 1
Did this mother fucker seriously just compare Microsoft not including it's competition's software within it's own product to BP destroying an entire sea?

?

Wow.


RE: And they are still trying to block competition
By BZDTemp on 3/2/2013 10:35:27 AM , Rating: 1
Not this stupidness again.

First of all the the EU has strict laws against anti-competitive practices and any company not following the rules is dealt with - and this is regardless of where they are based.

Secondly the EU is aprox. 500 million people so the fines awarded here is peanuts ergo the whole notion of the EU trying to score money from US companies is silly.


By half_duplex on 3/3/2013 1:32:56 PM , Rating: 2
With so much of the EU dependent on US sales of BMWs... I don't think it's fair to say that the fines are peanuts. It's a lot of money regardless of how much the little guy will eventually take home.


By NellyFromMA on 3/5/2013 1:12:42 PM , Rating: 2
The EU assessing fines is actualyl what is anti-competitve. That there is no European equivalent to Android, Windows, OS X, iOS, etc is ANTICOMPETITIVE because they DONT EVEN TRY TO COMPETE.

Can't win if you don't try. Unless, that is, you have the EU assess a success tax. BS


By ichabod8119 on 3/7/2013 6:07:51 AM , Rating: 2
strict laws selectively enforced. where are the fines against Apple and Android. Try to install Google on your ipad. Approx. 500 million people too stupid to download and install any number of free browsers.


By Strunf on 3/4/2013 7:35:52 AM , Rating: 1
EU needs cash? the EU is a GDP of $15.7 trillion do you really think $1 billion would make that much of difference?

Funny as if the fact Apple wins most cases in the US didn't show that the US also favors american companies, maybe that also shows the US can't compete with the rest of the world so they fine non-US companies to no end.


"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer














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