The European Commission has imposed a fine of €561 million (about $731 million) on Microsoft for failing to comply with its European Union ‘browser ballot’ commitments i.e. offering users a browser choice screen enabling to choose their preferred web browser. This is the first time that the Commission has had to fine a company for non-compliance with a commitments decision by calculation being made by taking into account the gravity and duration of the infringement.
Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia said: “In 2009, we closed our investigation about a suspected abuse of dominant position by Microsoft due to the tying of Internet Explorer to Windows by accepting commitments offered by the company. Legally binding commitments reached in antitrust decisions play a very important role in our enforcement policy because they allow for rapid solutions to competition problems. Of course, such decisions require strict compliance. A failure to comply is a very serious infringement that must be sanctioned accordingly.”
Back in 2009, the Commission has made these commitments legally binding on Microsoft until 2014 while the today’s decision made by Commission finds that Microsoft not compiled the browser choice screen with its Windows 7 Service Pack 1 from May 2011 until July 2012. The voyage means that about 15 million Windows users in the EU therefore did not see the choice screen during the period although Microsoft from its side confirmed the act by acknowledging that the choice screen was not displayed during that time.
Update: Microsoft given the following statement to Engadget and stated that it would not appeal the fine:
We take full responsibility for the technical error that caused this problem and have apologized for it. We provided the Commission with a complete and candid assessment of the situation, and we have taken steps to strengthen our software development and other processes to help avoid this mistake – or anything similar – in the future.