Remember that browser choice screen Microsoft promised to include in all EU-destined Windows PCs from 2009 onwards? That same browser choice screen Microsoft “accidentally” forgot to include in Windows 8 but has now promised to add it? Yeah, well, despite Microsoft’s assurance, EU regulators have finalized their probe into Microsoft and are getting ready to file formal charges against the company.
Reuters is quoting EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia as saying that the commission is working towards formally charging Microsoft:
The next step is to open a formal proceeding into the company’s breach of an agreement. We are working on this. It should not be a long investigation because the company itself explicitly recognized its breach of the agreement.
This isn’t Microsoft’s first dance with the EU; Microsoft has already paid over $1.28 billion in fines over the years. This, however, could potentially be Microsoft’s costliest. If found guilty, Microsoft can be fined up to 10% of total global revenues for fiscal 2012. This sum comes out to a whopping $7.4 billion.
Of course it is unlikely Microsoft will actually be fined that total amount, especially since Microsoft has been seemingly cooperating with the Competition Commission. However, some European lawyers warn that the commission is looking to “make an example” out of Microsoft due to the size of the company, the number of breaches related to the 2009 agreement, and the fact that Microsoft keeps butting heads with the EU. Seeing as the Competition Commission is no stranger to levying significantly large fines (Intel holds the records for the single highest fine by the EU — $1.36 billion), this “technical glitch”, as Microsoft calls it, may cost Microsoft a large sum of money.