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Microsoft pay €561m EU penalty

Microsoft have had to pay out €561m, after the EU competition authority fined the operating system giant. They said Microsoft had failed to give at least 15 million customers a choice of web browser, a violation of a voluntary antitrust pact that was spotted and raised by Google and Opera, according to people familiar with the case.

According to the FT, Joaquín Almunia, the EU antitrust enforcer was behind the ruling. It will certainly hurt Microsoft, especially in regards to public perception.

Microsoft had already paid around €1.6bn in fines in Europe during a decade long battle with Brussels. The FT add “Lately it has largely shed its image as antitrust delinquent to become the main cheerleader for regulatory action against Google’s search business.

Brussels has never before punished a group for breaching a settlement. Mr Almunia said the €561m fine was intended to “punish and deter”, saying companies “must do what they committed to do or face the consequences”. It represents about 1 per cent of Microsoft’s global turnover.”

Microsoft apologised last year for breaching a deal set out with Brussels to end a long running investigation. The company then provided a Windows OS update which flagged a screen on their computer to show them other options to download alternative browsers. Internet Explorer is bundled with the operating system.

Almunia added that ‘a lapse’ was brought to his attention by a Microsoft rival. Insiders claim that Google and Opera provided the ‘tip-off’.

Microsoft said after the fine was issued “We take full responsibility for the technical error that caused this problem and have apologised for it.”

Other reports have indicated that this was the reason that Steve Ballmer only received half of his potential bonus last year.

Kitguru says: Microsoft under watch by rivals.

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