EU may fine Microsoft over browsers by end-March

 

Second failure to comply?

EU competition regulators plan to fine Microsoft before the end of March in a case tied to the software giant's antitrust battle in Europe more than a decade ago, three people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The European Commission had accused Microsoft in October last year of breaking a promise to offer European consumers a choice of rival browsers in the previous version of its Windows operating system.

The company made the pledge in 2009 to settle an EU antitrust investigation and stave off a penalty that could have been as much as 10 percent of its global revenue.

"The Commission is planning to fine Microsoft before the Easter break," one of the sources said, adding that it is possible that procedural issues could push back the decision.

The size of the fine could be significant because this is the second time that Microsoft has failed to comply with an EU order.

The spokesman for competition policy at the Commission, Antoine Colombani, declined to comment.

Microsoft, whose shares were up slightly in afternoon trading, did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The Commission has sanctioned Microsoft to the tune of 1.6 billion euros (A$2.05 billion) to date for not providing data at fair prices to rivals, requiring software developers to create products to work with its products, and for tying its media player to its operating system.

The EU antitrust authority has said that the latest offence occurred between February 2011 and July 2012. Microsoft has blamed it on a technical error, saying that it has since tightened internal procedures to avoid a repeat.

The matter did not escape the notice of Microsoft's board, which cut the bonus of chief executive Steve Ballmer last year, partly because of the Windows division's failure to provide a browser choice screen as required by the European Commission, according to its annual proxy filing in October.

Microsoft's share of the European browser market has roughly halved since 2008 to 24 percent in January, below the 35 percent held by Google's Chrome and Mozilla's 29 percent share, according to Web traffic analysis company StatCounter.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, additional reporting by Bill Rigby; Editing by David Goodman and Nick Zieminski)


EU may fine Microsoft over browsers by end-March
People use computers at a Microsoft retail store in San Diego January 18, 2012. Credit: Reuters/Mike Blake/Files
 
 
 
Top Stories
Windows 10 lands in Australia
Campaign to get business to upgrade kicks off.
 
NSW to build its own myGov
Service NSW digital profiles available by September.
 
Android bug leaves a billion phones open to attack
Hackers only need phone number to target devices.
 
 
People use computers at a Microsoft retail store in San Diego January 18, 2012. Credit: Reuters/Mike Blake/Files
Sign up to receive iTnews email bulletins
   FOLLOW US...
Latest articles on BIT Latest Articles from BIT
The 5 Windows 10 privacy issues you should be aware of
Jul 31, 2015
There are a few unsettling details when it comes to Windows 10 privacy
Windows 10 is here! (For some)
Jul 29, 2015
Delivery of the free upgrade versions of Windows 10 began today - have you got yours yet?
Microsoft reveals Microsoft Send, a new enterprise chat app to rival Slack
Jul 27, 2015
Microsoft Send is MSN Messenger for grownups, and you could be using it at work very soon
Developers offered $500,000 grants to find HoloLens uses
Jul 8, 2015
Can augmented-reality end up in business?
Microsoft Tossup: The planning app for unorganised groups of friends
Jul 8, 2015
App allows friends to research venues, vote on plans and chat. And depending on how you run your ...
Latest Comments
Polls
Should law enforcement be able to buy and use exploits?



   |   View results
Yes
  14%
 
No
  51%
 
Only in special circumstances
  17%
 
Yes, but with more transparency
  18%
TOTAL VOTES: 778

Vote