Browser Ballot Screw Up Could Cost Microsoft Billions of Dollars

The European Commission doesn't mess around when it comes to antitrust law, nor is it afraid to hit companies with large fines for not playing by the rules in the European Union (EU). As such, Microsoft now finds itself in hot water for inadvertently breaking a promise to offer Windows users living in Europe a choice of Web browser rather than force feeding them Internet Explorer.

Back in 2009, Microsoft settled an antitrust suit with the EU by agreeing to display a so-called browser ballot in Windows 7. The browser screen presented European users with five main browser choices, with seven more available via scrolling.

Browser Choice

That was all fine and dandy, up until the browser screen disappeared following the roll-out of Service Pack 1. Microsoft fessed up to the broken browser screen, admitting that it failed to meet its obligations with the EU from February 2011 until July 2012 "due to a technical error."

It's a technical error that could end up costing Microsoft billions of dollars. The EU today filed a statement of objections against Microsoft for "non-compliance with browser choice commitments." As the EU describes it, a statement of objections is a formal step in the Commission's investigations, which entails informing the parties involved in writing of the objections raised.

Under EU law, Microsoft could be fined up to 10 percent of its total annual revenue, which means it faces a fine of up to $7.4 billion. The actual fine will likely be less, though Microsoft should expect to be hit with a heavy penalty, considering the EU's track record.
ASuarez 2 years ago

LMFAO!!! I must admit this is pretty EPIC. Iv always hated that windows force feeds the average user into using IE.

Seeing that window showing you other GREAT options makes this fine well worth them having to pay! bring this to america!

Im a Chome head myself with firefox being my second choice :D

metalmania31 2 years ago

I don't understand this. Are people so stupid that they need a government entity to force a private company to let people know they have a choice in browsers. That is easily and readily found by word of mouth, google search, etc. That is just the most evil policy to enforce on a business where in this situation people already have a choice of browser to install by navigating to said brower of choice website. I think MS should just leave EU like google moved out of China. I mean if they're going to be fined anyway there's no point in kow towing to over reaching government. Either way they lose $.

ASuarez 2 years ago

Metal you forget that a very large portion of computer users are to lazy and uneducated on what a different browser can offer. people may know there are other browsers outthere but have the mentality of "it works why bother looking for a new one". those people know no better and loose out on the really good options these other browsers have compared to the likes of IE.

Others just dont know how to get a new browser all together without assistance.

CDeeter 2 years ago

Ok then how about MS doesn't include any browser at all lol.

CDeeter 2 years ago

Right on Metalmania! I think MS should refuse to pay these bloodsuckers until the EU forces ALL OSs to include a browser choice page AND force said OSs to be compatible with all browsers.

Now that would be a fair level playing field for everyone.

RTietjens 2 years ago

@Metalmania31 - there is a vast difference between ignorance and stupidity. Ignorance is curable. To illustrate this, I am certian you don't know what I had for lunch today, nor the names of my children. Are you so stupid that you don't know these things? Or is it a case of curable ignorance? By your standards, I could call you stupid, but I know it's mere ignorance.

By the same token, the vast majority of non-technical people don't even know that "windows" is not part of the computer, and quite a few don't know that "microsoft" does not automatically mean the Outlook email client (I've gotten several help calls stating, "my microsoft isn't working," meaning that their email wasn't being sent or received).

Most people learn only what they must. Call it laziness, or efficiency, or whatever you like, but it's not stupidity; it's human nature. Give them *a* Web browser, and it simply won't occur to them that there are others, nor that the others might be functionally superior. But if you give them a choice *before* they have to use one, there's a reasonable chance they will choose something other than the monopolist's choice.

realneil 2 years ago

I say let them eat IE!

No wait,..................Let Microsoft pay the piper for ignoring what they agreed to do in the first place.

They didn't forget,....they just tried to get away with some crap and now it's biting their backsides!


4L1G8R 2 years ago

I say sock it to 'em!

If they can keep the updates rolling out so steadily, they could easily have fixed a "technical error" in ~1.5 years time....

Really, Microsoft, no one is that stupid. The fact that you think they are scares me because it smells of the way Apple looks at people in general, and fits with the general trend I'm seeing where you adopt Apple's ways of doing things.

Sad really, but I think Linux will replace you quite well if need be.

mhenriday 2 years ago

«As such, Microsoft now finds itself in hot water for inadvertently breaking a promise to offer Windows users living in Europe a choice of Web browser rather than force feeding them Internet Explorer.» Well, Paul, I suspect that you are being exceedingly generous - not to say naive - when you buy into that Microsoft plea of an «inadvertent» error. Can't prove anything, of course - deniability being Rule No 1 and all relevant emails were no doubt deleted long ago. but it's difficult not to file this one under the category of «typical Microsoft arrogance» - no one's going to notice, so why not give it a try ? I'd really like to see the EC Directorate General for Competition dig into the relationship between Microsoft and OEMs which led to the former's quasi-monopoly of OSs for desktops and laptops - but I guess Brussels wants to avoid being bombed....


ricofrost 2 years ago

Europe is broke they have to sue every company to make money. Look at what they did to intel also.

Its not that they are dumb is that they are scamming it.

fat78 2 years ago

I don't think Europe is the one who is broke here. Internet explorer market share is dropping fast and it is clear microsoft "screwed up" on the ballot so that more people won't stop using internet explorer. Instead of making a better product they instead just force people to use their product by trying to eliminate competitors. I think Microsoft is the one scamming people by not allowing a choice of which browser they would prefer.

RWilliams 2 years ago

I forget - did the EU handle Apple yet for not offering people a default browser in OS X?

I am totally ignorant to all things politics, but this seems like nothing more than the EU's method of snagging a ton of cash from a major company. The reasoning behind the browser wheel could be applied to SO much software, it's nuts.

I pity the fool who doesn't know about alternative calculators.

Post a Comment
or Register to comment