EU fines Microsoft for breaking browser pact

The European Union levied a $733 million penalty in its Internet browser dispute with Microsoft.
By Toby Sterling Published: March 7, 2013
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— The European Union has fined Microsoft $733 million for breaking a pledge to offer personal computer users a choice of Internet browsers when they install the company's flagship Windows operating system.

The penalty imposed by the EU's executive arm, the Commission, is a first for Brussels: no company has ever failed to keep its end of a bargain with EU authorities before.

In 2009, Microsoft Corp. struck a broad settlement with the Commission to resolve disputes over the company's abuse of the dominance of Windows, which had spanned more than a decade.

Back then, the company promised to give Windows users the option of choosing another browser rather than having Microsoft's Internet Explorer automatically installed on machines.

But Microsoft failed to stick to the deal for about 15 million installations of Windows 7 software in Europe from May 2011 until July 2012.

It admitted the failure last year.

The Commission's top competition regulator, Joaquin Almunia, said at a news conference in Brussels, that the fine reflects the size of the violation and the length of time it went on for. It was intended to make an example of Microsoft and deter other companies from doing same thing.

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