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EU Fines Microsoft for Failing to Comply with Browser Ballot

The European Union has 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 European Union was said to have launched an investigation last summer after receiving complaints that Microsoft was not offering the browser ballot to all users. 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. In September, word got out that the EU was preparing to lay charges against Microsoft for its mistake.

Today, the European Commission announced that it fined Microsoft for failing to roll out the browser choice screen with its Windows 7 Service Pack 1 from May 2011 until July 2012. According to the European Commission, 15 million Windows users in the EU did not see the choice screen during this period and Microsoft has acknowledged that the choice screen was not displayed during that time. 

Indeed, Microsoft has admitted that the browser ballot pop-up was missing from some versions of Windows. In a statement released back in July, Redmond said that this was due to a software glitch that it worked quickly to fix. Microsoft estimated 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. What's more, Redmond offered to extend the period of time it's obligated to offer users this choice by more than a year. However, it seems the EU wasn't satisfied with Microsoft's efforts to rectify the mistake.

"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," said Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia. "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."

According to the European Commission, the fine was calculated with the consideration of the gravity and duration of the infringement as well as Microsoft's cooperation on the matter.

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  • wannabepro
    I'm not a big fan of IE. But it seems to me that EU just wants a bit of spending money...

    If someone can't go online to download another browser, they don't deserve to own a computer.
    Reply
  • NightLight
    living in europe, i just don't get this, there was clearly an annoying browser choice...

    i think ms just got ripped by the eu, like all citizens in the eu.
    Reply
  • shafe88
    Now if someone could only fine Microsoft for putting that god ugly Modern(Metro) UI on desktops.
    Reply
  • gamergeek
    I really dont get this. I have been growing more and more displeased with MS, but this is BS. You can just download any browser you want of the internet, whats the big deal?
    Reply
  • edogawa
    This is dumb on so many levels, they shouldn't force Microsoft to put a competitors product on their product.

    If you want another browser they can just go online and get any of them, and if you can't figure that out you shouldn't be on a computer.
    Reply
  • Fokissed
    I liked the idea of Windows shipping with no browser at all. It doesn't seem like Microsoft's responsibility to include competitor's browsers.
    Reply
  • Fulgurant
    NightLightliving in europe, i just don't get this, there was clearly an annoying browser choice...i think ms just got ripped by the eu, like all citizens in the eu.The numbers for fines like this one are pretty crazy, aren't they?

    It'd be one thing if the EU had assessed the damage Microsoft's omission inflicted upon its competitors, and if the EU had plans to distribute the amount to Mozilla, Google, et al -- but that's not the deal here. About the best thing you can say is that the EU's fine adds a little extra legitimacy to a future lawsuit on behalf of Microsoft's competitors.

    In the meanwhile, the EU pockets a crapton of cash. They must've been happy when Microsoft failed to comply with the regulation. Free money.
    Reply
  • Fokissed
    DiddyMaoOutOfHereM$You can subject me to the most severe ridicule and hate , but don't Gift me windows 8, you can take a plasma torch to my family jewls, but don't gift me windows 8! I will not take the METRO free or for large sums of money , I'd rather have death buy one thousand cuts, or the VD from one Billion Sluts, but don't gift me windows 8!wat.
    Reply
  • tridon
    edogawaThis is dumb on so many levels, they shouldn't force Microsoft to put a competitors product on their product.If you want another browser they can just go online and get any of them, and if you can't figure that out you shouldn't be on a computer.
    And from the other angle, I have never seen a single Browser Ballot Screen when installing Ubuntu, or when I got the Samsung Galaxy Tab or the Iphone. Everyone is allowed to use their own software except MS? Heck, iOS even blocks the possibility for browsers to use the same tools as Safari, and thus other browsers perform poorer. This whole thing is extremely arbitrary. The word "corruption" springs to mind :\
    Reply
  • Pinhedd
    NightLightliving in europe, i just don't get this, there was clearly an annoying browser choice...i think ms just got ripped by the eu, like all citizens in the eu.
    It was missing in the EU distributions of Windows 7 with SP1.

    With that said, it's just a cash grab by the EU
    Reply