By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | MARCH 6, 2013
The European Commission imposed a new huge fine against U.S. software giant Microsoft for failing to fulfill its commitment to include in its Windows operating system an option screen that allows users to install other alternative browsers besides Internet Explorer.
The Vice President of the Commission responsible for Competition, Joaquin Almunia, announced it would charge Microsoft a fine of 561 million euros for ignoring its own decision to correct the problem in its operating system. The fine, reports said, could reach up to 10 percent of the turnover made by Microsoft from its operating system Windows and its web browser Internet Explorer, but the Commission settled at just over half a billion euros.
Almunia’s spokesman had eluded confirmation of such a fine. Perhaps the reason is that it is the first time the EU executive punishes a company for breaking its commitments to correct an abuse of dominant position.
The display options in Windows to allow users to choose alternative web browsers was one of the ‘remedies’ promised by the Redmond company in 2009 as part of a case opened by Brussels for abuse the company’s dominant position in the market.
The aim was to prevent that Microsoft imposed its own Explorer browser on users as a way to expel its rivals from the market. The company was mandated to have this feature up until 2014.
In the statement of objections sent in October, the EU executive claimed that Microsoft did not include the options screen in Windows 7, Service Pack 1, which went on sale in February 2011.
“Between February 2011 and July 2012, millions of Windows users in the EU could have been deprived of the options screen,” said the Commission.
The company has already acknowledged the facts and has attributed the issue to a technical error.
The EU executive has already imposed three fines on Microsoft for abuse of dominant position since 2004 amounting to a total of almost 1,700 million euros.
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