Microsoft hit with €561 million fine

March 7, 2013 // 9:45 a.m.

Tags: #browser-ballot #browser-choice-screen #eu #european-union #fine #microsoft #monopoly #windows #windows-8

Microsoft has been fined a whopping €561 million fine by the European Union after failing to adhere to anti-monopolistic agreements put in place regarding the company's Internet Explorer browser.

When Microsoft's next-generation Windows 8 operating system launched, it did so without the 'Browser Choice Screen' that allows users to pick an alternative web browser to the bundled Internet Explorer - something the European Union had demanded of the company. While Microsoft apologised for what it claimed was a technical error, the EU was unimpressed and filed a formal complaint against the company.

That complaint became an investigation, and the investigation has now become a ruling that will see Microsoft forced to hand over €561 million in cash to the EU by way of apology - despite putting things right as soon as it had received the complaint, which was based on agreements made by Microsoft to the EU back in 2009.

While the fine is pretty hefty, it could have been worse: the EU's anti-monopoly regulations allow for a fine of up to 10 per cent of a company's annual turnover in such events - and with Microsoft having published a $18 billion revenue for the last financial year, that could have meant a €1.38 billion hit to the company's coffers.

Microsoft, for its part, has stated that it has no intention of appealing the EU's ruling. 'We take full responsibility for the technical error that caused this problem and have apologised for it,' a company spokesperson claimed in a statement to press. '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.'
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