Microsoft was supposed to include a Browser Choice Screen with versions of Windows shipped in Europe until 2014.
Published Thursday, 19 July 2012
By Mark Sutton
Microsoft could once again face a fine from the European Union for anti-competitive behaviour.
The European Commission has announced that it is investigating Microsoft over failure to comply with terms of a 2009 deal on competitiveness, which could land Microsoft with a $7.4bn fine.
Under the terms of the deal, Microsoft was supposed to provide a browser choice screen in versions of Windows shipped in the European Union, so that users were clearly made aware that they did not have to use Internet Explorer as their default browser, and to link to downloads of competitor browsers. However, Microsoft has admitted that this screen had not been included in Windows since the Windows 7 Service Pack 1 update in February 2011.
The Commission could fine Microsoft as much as 10% of its annual turnover, the EC said in a statement, which could mean a fine of $7.4 billion.
"We take compliance with our decisions very seriously. And I trusted the company's reports were accurate. But it seems that was not the case, so we have immediately taken action. If following our investigation, the infringement is confirmed, Microsoft should expect sanctions," said Joaquín Almunia, Vice President of the Commission in charge of competition policy.
Microsoft said that the omission of a browser choice screen had been due to "technical error" and that it had taken immediate steps to remedy the situation.