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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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RE: Simple equation
By JKflipflop98 on 3/1/2013 7:49:43 PM , Rating: 2
WTF is this crap? You have a choice of any browser you want right out of the box. All you have to do is go download it FFS. Are you really so dumb and lazy that you need a list of all of them flashed before you on boot?


RE: Simple equation
By TSS on 3/2/2013 7:49:26 AM , Rating: 2
You're so absorbed in your own world that you cannot fathom somebody else not knowing what a browser *is*, do you? Much less that there are multiple options if not given to you.

I agree with his suggestion. Where was the ballot box on the android device i recently bought? It had the default browser (chrome knockoff) and chrome pre-installed. And to be honest, i just use the default browser, serves my all of my smartphone needs. When i first got it though, i was used to chrome, so i probably would've selected chrome in a selection box. Or a mobile firefox since i'm not all that keep on how google tracks just about everything.

No such icon on the desktop though, nor a choice menu, just a list of 4 icons one of which the google play store and the other one said "internet". So i've been using that one ever since. And i'm actually a tech savvy user (just can't care that much about smartphone usages. Don't even have a subscription, i just use teh wifi's).


"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer














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