Occasionally the EU's rather aggressive stance with huge penalty threats may come across as being petty, but Microsoft's slip in complying with an order had some real world impact.
Mozilla's Harvey Anderson posted a chart of Firefox downloads, which visualizes the impact of Microsoft's decision and the fact that the browser choice was a no-show for about 15 months. Anderson claims that Firefox downloads plummeted by 63 percent to just 20,000 downloads per day, but increased by 150 percent to about 50,000 when the fix was implemented. As a result, Mozilla believes that it lost somewhere between 6 to 9 million browser downloads.
"After accounting for the aggregate impact on all the browser vendors, it seems like this technical glitch decreased downloads and diminished the effectiveness of the remedy ordered in the 2009 Commitments," Anderson wrote.
The value of 9 million missed browser downloads may be difficult to assess and since Mozilla is believed to receive a flat fee for the traffic it provides to Google. Much of the impact could be seen as additive to its declining market share, which hit a new low in October, according to StatCounter (22.32 percent). Google, was clearly not significantly impacted, even if one could easily argue that Microsoft's deletion of the browser choice screen helped soften the market share decline of Internet Explorer.
It's a blurry argument, but we know the EU follows through with investigations and the hefty fines it talks about. Breaking an agreement most certainly will not work in Microsoft's favor.