Wednesday 6 March 2013

European commission punishes Microsoft for failing to offer a browser selection in Windows 7 SP1: A very costly mistake!

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   Those of you who bought a Windows-based laptop or desktop recently will, hopefully for Microsoft, have been directed to a 'choice of browsers' page on your shiny new computer. This list gives you a choice of internet browsers and you can choose to stick with Internet Explorer or go with alternative options such as Chrome, Firefox, Opera and so on.

   Microsoft were ordered to do this by the European Commission who 'suspected abuse of dominant position by Microsoft due to the tying of Internet Explorer to Windows' way back in 2009. But, the guys from Redmond were a little naughty, the commission's most recent report found that:
"Microsoft failed to roll out the browser choice screen with its Windows 7 Service Pack 1 from May 2011 until July 2012. 15 million Windows users in the EU therefore did not see the choice screen during this period. Microsoft has acknowledged that the choice screen was not displayed during that time."
   With that confirmation then comes the consequences of not sticking to your legal obligations in Europe, something which Commission Vice President ifor competition policy, Joaquín Almunia, said 'require strict compliance [and] a failure to comply is a very serious infringement that must be sanctioned accordingly.'

   The way Europe has chosen to sanction Microsoft is through a financial fine. That fine will be €561 million ($732 million or £484.5million)!

   With that huge fine in mind there's a lot of people questioning why Microsoft didn't just offer the choice screen in the first place, well it turns out that there was a 'technical error', an error which Microsoft didn't spot for over a year. In Microsoft's defence though, when the issue was brought to their attention they immediately pushed out a software fix and the 15 million affected users were presented with a choice of browsers, that wasn't until Microsoft had been threatened with a fine of up to 10 percent their global annual turnover, which would have equated to somewhere in the region of $7 billion, so in that regard Microsoft got off quite lightly!

   At the moment it seems unlikely that we will see any of these sorts of fines handed out to Apple, Microsoft or Google for their tablet based operating systems because the market is so split, but if one reaches the same sort of market dominance which Microsoft achieved with Windows then it is conceivable that they'd face a similar fate!

   You can find the full European Commission report here!
Via GigaOm.


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