Microsoft has said that it will not appeal the €561 million fine it was handed by the European Union today. The European Union imposed a €561 million fine on Microsoft for failing to offer the browser ballot screen it promised to ship with all versions of Windows. The ballot screen is a pop-up designed to give customers the ability to choose which browser they want to use to surf the web. The Redmond, Washington-based software giant said today that it accepts full responsibility for its mistake.
"We take full responsibility for the technical error that caused this problem and have apologized for it," Microsoft said in a statement released today. "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."
The European Commission said today that the fine, equal to approximately $730 million, was calculated with the consideration of the gravity and duration of the infringement as well as Microsoft's cooperation on the matter.
Microsoft's offering of the browser choice screen is the result of an 2009 antitrust investigation conducted by the Euorpean Union. Europe felt that bundling Internet Explorer with Windows was anti-competitive and argued that, because Windows is the most common operating system, it was unfair for Microsoft force all users to use IE without first informing them of their options.
Microsoft estimated last July that around 90 percent of computers received the BCS software as planned. As for the remaining 10 percent, the company said it began developing a fix one business day after the problem was discovered. A day after that, the company began distributing the BCS software to Windows 7 SP1 PCs that missed out on the software the first time around.
Speaking in a statement issued today, Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy, Joaquín Almunia, said that legally binding commitments reached in EU antitrust decisions play "a very important role in [the EU's] enforcement policy because they allow for rapid solutions to competition problems." Almunia went on to say that a failure to comply is a serious infringement and must be sanctioned accordingly.