Report: EU Prepares to Surprise Microsoft With More Fines by End of March
March 1, 2013 1:00 PM
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. (
with €1.6B ($2.1B USD) in fines
for allegedly using abusive anticompetitive tactics in the European market. But the EU is far from done.
, 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.
by the EU to provide a browser selection screen with Windows 7. It did, but the browser selection screen
mysteriously stopped working
Windows 7's first service pack
. Microsoft claims this was due to a "coding error".
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 (
) 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.
"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer
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