Print 69 comment(s) - last by ichabod8119.. on Mar 7 at 6:24 AM

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: 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.

"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton

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