- Title: BELGIUM: Microsoft fined 561 million euros for breaking EU antitrust promise
- Date: 6th March 2013
- Summary: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (FILE) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF MICROSOFT PROMOTIONAL VIDEO FOR EXPLORER 9
- Embargoed: 21st March 2013 12:00
- Location: Belgium
- Country: Belgium
- Topics: Business,International Relations,Politics,Science / Technology
- Reuters ID: LVAAAPL8A8DXUBKGJ1JPXR7NEA2O
- Story Text: EU antitrust regulators fined Microsoft 561 million euros on Wednesday (March 6) for breaking a promise to offer European consumers a choice of web browsers.
"Today the Commission adopted a decision sanctioning Microsoft for its failure to comply with the legally binding commitments which it made to the Commission. The decision adopted today imposes a fine of 561 million euros to Microsoft for this very serious infringement," EU anti-trust chief Joaquin Almunia told a news conference.
Microsoft's regulatory troubles in Europe date from the last decade and has already cost it a total 2.16 billion euros, including the latest fine.
The fines relate to an anti-trust battle in Europe more than a decade ago. In order to avoid a penalty then, Microsoft promised to offer European consumers a choice of rival browsers.
EU anti-trust regulators said this did not happen for a period during February 2011 and July 2012, a lapse Microsoft blamed on a technical error. It has said it since tightened internal procedures to avoid a repeat.
"Although Microsoft did make the choice screen available in March 2010, as agreed, the choice screen was not rolled out as required following the launch of Windows 7 Service Pack I in May 2011. As a consequence, during more than one year, exactly during 14 months, until July 2012, around 15 million users, more exactly 15.3 million users, did not see the choice screen as they should have," Almunia said.
The latest lapse did not escape the notice of Microsoft's board, which cut the bonus of chief executive Steve Ballmer last year, partly because of the Windows division's failure to provide a browser choice screen as required by the European Commission, according to an annual proxy filing.
Microsoft's share of the European browser market has roughly halved since 2008 to 24 percent in January, below the 35 percent held by Google's Chrome and Mozilla's 29 percent share, according to Web traffic analysis company StatCounter.
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