The European Union has decided to impose a 561 million euro (a little over $731 million) fine on Microsoft for violating one of its rulings. The announcement was made today by Joaquin Alumnia, the EU’s Competition Commissioner. The EU asked Microsoft back in 2009 to allow users to choose which web browsers they wanted to install on their machine. The choices would appear in a “Browser Choice Screen pop-up” when they first start up their PC.
The EU decided to impose regulations on Microsoft because the web browser company, Opera, voiced its concerns about Microsoft including only Internet Explorer with its operating system. Opera stated that the move was hurting competition from other web browsers. Microsoft had complied with the EU and beginning in March 2010, it instated the “Browser Choice Screen pop-up” in its PCs. Everything was going well until a technical error caused the pop-up to not appear on around 28 million machines. The issue was linked to the Windows 7 Service Pack 1 update released in February 2011.
Microsoft released a statement last year saying that they were taking the matter seriously and will work quickly to fix the issue. This isn’t the first time Microsoft has been fined by the EU. Microsoft is actually one of the companies that violates the EU’s rulings the most. Including the fine today, Microsoft will have paid a total of 2.2 billion euros in fines.
This Microsoft violation will set example for all of the other companies currently entangled with the EU, like Google. The EU isn’t scared to impose strict fines to make sure companies comply with them. However, the EU was a bit lenient this time around. It could have imposed a fine of up to 10% of Microsoft’s annual revenue, but instead it imposed a fine that equaled only 1% of Microsoft’s revenue.