SEATTLE – The European Union Commission has fined Microsoft $US757 million for failing to deliver on its promise to offer European Windows users the freedom to pick their own browser.
NDJ World | Published: Mar 06 2013 High Tech→Lifestyle
Chairman Joaquin Almunia said: “This is the first time that a legal binding contract was not adhered to. That’s a serious offence.”
The EU Commission dropped its ‘abuse of power’ claim against Microsoft in 2009. Microsoft had promised the commission it would offer users an option to chose their own browser. The company never made good on its promise which it signed in ink.
Microsoft’s browser promise entailed showing Windows users a non-intrusive screen until 2014, given them the option to pick their own browser instead of being forced to use Microsoft’s build-in Internet Explorer.
At first Microsoft complied with its promise and between March and November 2010 84 million non-Microsoft browsers were downloaded and installed.
But when Microsoft rolled out its Windows 7 Service Pack 1 in 2011, the screen giving users a browser choice disappeared. Specifically from May 2011 until July 2012, Windows users were forced to use Internet Explorer as their browser.
According to Almunia “15.3 million users did not get the screen allowing them to chose their browser”.
The Commission and Microsoft had agreed that a ‘specific person’ would monitor the compliance of Microsoft’s promise.
That person worked for Microsoft and has according to the EUC failed to his/her job. According to the EUC that’s why it took 14 months before the problem with no browser choice came to light.
Microsoft blames ‘technical difficulties’ for not adhering fully to the written promise with the European Union Commission.
For Microsoft this is the second time it is slapped with a huge fine for ‘immoral’ business practices.
In 2012, Microsoft was fined $US1 billion by the EUC after it was discovered the company charged its competitors Windows compatible software installation fees that were too high and the company took its time readjusting the fees.
A spokesperson for the Seatle based company said: “Microsoft takes full responsibility for the technical difficulty that caused the problem and offer our apologies”.
Thus far Microsoft has been fined a combined total exceeding $US2 billion by the European Union Commission.
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