Penalty is for the company’s failure to give European users the ability to get a browser other than Internet Explorer after promising in 2009 to give buyers choice

EU fines Microsoft $731 million

The European Union’s antitrust chief on Wednesday fined Microsoft Corp. the equivalent of $731 million for the company’s failure to honour a commitment to include a browser choice page in its 2011 upgrade to the Windows 7 operating system.

In the settlement of an antitrust case in 2009, Microsoft had promised to provide Windows users the ability to get a browser other than Internet Explorer by providing a browser choice screen in Windows 7. 
 
 

Subsequent investigations carried out by the European Commission found that the software company had failed to roll out the screen with its Windows 7 Service Pack 1, which was released in February 2011.

Microsoft agreed to include the browser choice screen with its Windows OS soon after it was found to have breached the EU competition laws. However, after the upgrade in 2011, the choice screen disappeared.

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Internet browser company Mozilla estimates the omission of the browser choice screen cost them at least around 8.8 million downloads of Firefox.

Microsoft contends its failure to include the screen stemmed from a “technical fault.” However, Joaquin Almunia, EU competition commissioner, charged the company of failing to comply with the 2009 settlement.

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