Microsoft fined 561m for not showing browser ballot on Win7 SP1

By on March 6, 2013, 2:30 PM

The European Commission has fined Microsoft €561 ($730 million) for not complying with a three-year old agreement to give Windows users a selection of alternative browsers. In 2009, Microsoft faced an antitrust case with the EU that suggested the company abused its position by forcing Internet Explorer on Windows customers, putting Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari and other solutions at a competitive disadvantage.

To settle that investigation, Microsoft agreed to show Windows XP, Vista and 7 users a ballot screen that contained a randomly ordered list of downloadable alternative browsers. That effort began on February 22, 2010, but Microsoft slipped up a year later when it shipped Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) without the ballot. The selection screen remained absent for 14 months and European authorities eventually took notice.

In a statement released on its site today, Microsoft blamed the mishap on an unexplained technical error, for which the company said it accepts full responsibility. "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 company said.

"Today's decision finds that Microsoft has indeed breached its legally binding commitments," the EC said. "Such a breach is of course very serious, irrespective of whether it was intentional or not, and it calls for a sanction. The Commission has therefore imposed a fine, as foreseen by the EU's Antitrust Regulation. This is the first time that the Commission has found a breach of legally binding commitments enshrined in an art. 9 Decision."

The EC can reportedly issue a fine as high as 10% of a company's global annual revenue but they are generally much lower. Intel holds the record for receiving the region's largest single fine after being hit with a €1.1 billion ($1.4 billion) penalty in 2009 for abusing its market dominance. However, with this week's €561 million sanction, the NYT says Microsoft has racked up €2.26 billion in EU antitrust fines over the last decade.




User Comments: 21

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H3llion H3llion, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Apple does this too? If not, gogo fine! This is utterly stupid fine to be honest.

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Internet Explorer probably had earned Microsoft this fine, and quite a bit of spare change just from searches alone.

I agree with H3llion, it is stupid. If you own a computer and don't know there are choices for browsers, then you deserve Internet Explorer. It's like using one brand of gas or oil in the car because that's what a dealer suggested.

treeski treeski said:

Yep... this is one of the dumbest things the EU has done.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Is there any Computer, tablet or phone that has ever asked you which browser you want to use during setup?

Can't get another browser without a browser, and to solve that problem, every internet ready device since day one has come preloaded with one browser.

Why should Microsoft (and only microsoft) be forced to advertise competor's products.

ETF Soldier ETF Soldier said:

WHY THE HECK DOES IT MATTER?! If you genuinely cared about the browser so much you'd just go and download it, it's not difficult! Either way, Microsoft make the bloody operating system, why shouldn't they be allowed to do it? If Google/ Nokia/ Mozilla hate it so much, they should just make their own desktop OS.

1 person liked this | Renrew Renrew said:

Does anyone read these articles anymore

"To settle that investigation, Microsoft agreed to show Windows XP, Vista and 7 users a ballot screen that contained a randomly ordered list of downloadable alternative browsers. That effort began on February 22, 2010, but Microsoft slipped up a year later when it shipped Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) without the ballot. The selection screen remained absent for 14 months and European authorities eventually took notice."

MS agreed to settle that investigation by showing the users a ballot screen etc.etc.

They were given plenty of time to rectify the situation didn't and must now pay. What's wrong with that? It's about time these multibillion internationals feet are held to the fire.

ETF Soldier ETF Soldier said:

They were given plenty of time to rectify the situation didn't and must now pay. What's wrong with that? It's about time these multibillion internationals feet are held to the fire.

As much as I want the corporate bigwigs to cough up a little dough once in a while, that doesn't pardon the European Commission from enforcing this on Microsoft and no one else. Apple don't give users the option in set-up, but the EC haven't taken any action against them.

1 person liked this | Nima304 said:

They were given plenty of time to rectify the situation didn't and must now pay. What's wrong with that? It's about time these multibillion internationals feet are held to the fire.

As much as I want the corporate bigwigs to cough up a little dough once in a while, that doesn't pardon the European Commission from enforcing this on Microsoft and no one else. Apple don't give users the option in set-up, but the EC haven't taken any action against them.

That being said, neither OSX or Linux hold 90+% of the world's desktop market share.

1 person liked this | Chazz said:

They were given plenty of time to rectify the situation didn't and must now pay. What's wrong with that? It's about time these multibillion internationals feet are held to the fire.

As much as I want the corporate bigwigs to cough up a little dough once in a while, that doesn't pardon the European Commission from enforcing this on Microsoft and no one else. Apple don't give users the option in set-up, but the EC haven't taken any action against them.

That being said, neither OSX or Linux hold 90+% of the world's desktop market share.

And that matters how? Does/did the iPad offer users a choice on browsers? They dominated the tablet landscape. Actually, you can't even use IE on a ipad if you wanted to because Apple specifically denies browsers that doesn't use their webkit engine. This is nonsense no matter how you try to slice it.

Scshadow said:

Just remove the browsers all together. Blame EU and watch as the backlash comes in.

Lionvibez said:

I would just pull out of europe and let them use Linux!

Are they trying to say europeans are too stupid to go and choose an alternate browser? The rest of the world doesn't need a browser ballet!

1 person liked this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

They were given plenty of time to rectify the situation didn't and must now pay. What's wrong with that? It's about time these multibillion internationals feet are held to the fire.
Whats wrong with that you ask. Can I answer with a question? Where does the fine money go? It's fine money meant for only one thing, make the collectors richer. It's not about proving a point, it's about the rich fighting each other while the guy at the bottom ultimately pays the price.

Ranger12 Ranger12 said:

This fine is the EU's way of giving out a speeding ticket. They're more about being a revenue source than they are for protecting citizens.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Well, I think, if you're going to fine M$, then you ought to fine Apple for only including their turd of a browser as well.

Well, because Apple would just buy the EU. (Never mind, I answered my own question).

Renrew Renrew said:

Sorry, you'll find no sympathy for MS here, especially given their past history at thumbing their nose at other settlements.They chose to ignore a legally binding settlement and now have to pay the price.

havok585 havok585 said:

Well, I think, if you're going to fine M$, then you ought to fine Apple for only including their turd of a browser as well.

Well, because Apple would just buy the EU. (Never mind, I answered my own question).

Buy who? talk about arrogance... apple employee I bet.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Well, I think, if you're going to fine M$, then you ought to fine Apple for only including their turd of a browser as well.

Well, because Apple would just buy the EU. (Never mind, I answered my own question).

Buy who? talk about arrogance... apple employee I bet.
You obviously haven't been here very long, or you wouldn't be accusing me of being,"an Apple employee".

My post was pure derogatory snot, directed toward the Apple corporation. Do they offer browser balloting with their OS? Is "Safari" the best browser going? If the answer to either of those questions is "NO", then Apple is getting a free pass in the EU..

If you have any more misconceptions about my intent, feel free to quote me again.

As far as Apple "Buying", EU >> legislators<<, I doubt they are above that, any more than they are above buying US legislators, judges, and juries. That's pure speculation though, based on the massive jury award for, "the shape of the iPhone".

In the meantime, here's the Wikipedia page on sarcasm: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarcasm Try to, as the children say, "wrap your head around it",

Guest said:

So this is where Greece's bailout money is coming from ;p

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

So this is where Greece's bailout money is coming from ;p
Indeed. It's likely a shell game / Ponzie scheme started by the World Monetary Fund. After Greece claims to have used it to bail itself out, it then will be transferred to Spain, and so forth. After the news headlines of "recovery(s)" have died down, the money will be returned to the governing members of the EU, who will then split it amongst themselves.

Guest said:

So this is where Greece's bailout money is coming from ;p
Indeed. It's likely a shell game / Ponzie scheme started by the World Monetary Fund. After Greece claims to have used it to bail itself out, it then will be transferred to Spain, and so forth. After the news headlines of "recovery(s)" have died down, the money will be returned to the governing members of the EU, who will then split it amongst themselves.

This is not the right place to have political disputes, but come live here in Greece for a week and you will understand that the people living here don't need any bailout money, it's the politicians that f*ck up everything in our country...

Guest said:

So this is where Greece's bailout money is coming from ;p
Indeed. It's likely a shell game / Ponzie scheme started by the World Monetary Fund. After Greece claims to have used it to bail itself out, it then will be transferred to Spain, and so forth. After the news headlines of "recovery(s)" have died down, the money will be returned to the governing members of the EU, who will then split it amongst themselves.

This is not the right place to have political disputes, but come live here in Greece for a week and you will understand that the people living here don't need any bailout money, it's the politicians that f*ck up everything in our country...

Your people share the blame for the mess in your country. After all, you're the ones who vote the politicians in office in the first place.

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