The European Union has levied a $732 million fine against Microsoft for allegedly violating an agreement that would separate browser from operating system.
In 2009, Microsoft and EU antitrust regulators reached a deal that mandated Microsoft would provide a “choice” screen in Windows allowing users to pick their browser until 2014. However, an update to Windows in mid-2011 removed this feature without the commission or Microsoft noticing.
“Such a breach is of course very serious, irrespective of whether it was intentional or not and it calls for sanctions,” EU competition chief Joaquín Almunia told the Wall Street Journal. ”I hope this decision will make companies think twice before they ever think of intentionally breaching their obligations or even neglecting their duty to ensure strict compliance.”
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was deprived of half of his bonus last year because of the company’s failure to provide a browser-choice screen as required by the European Commission.