The European Commission have handed software giant Microsoft a $731 million fine (561 million Euros / £484m) for their failure to promote a choice of web browsers to users beyond their own Internet Explorer.
Microsoft originally employed a browser choice screen in March 2010 in response to an earlier EU competition investigation. Embarrassingly, they forgot to include it in the February 2011 Service Pack for Windows 7. Just how a company of Microsoft’s size can miss out something of such high importance is almost impossible to comprehend in the first place. Worse, though, is the fact that they still reported back to the European Commission that they were indeed continuing to adhere to their agreed obligations with regard to browser choice.
The omission continued for a staggering 14 months. When the EU contacted Microsoft they did apologies and admit that engineers must have missed the screen out by accident.
“We take full responsibility for the technical error that caused this problem and have apologized for it. 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.”
This, however, was not enough to appease the commission who investigated further in order to agree on a suitable punishment. Microsoft may see themselves as lucky as the maximum fine that they could have received was 10% of their annual revenue worldwide which was some $7.4 billion.