Microsoft is fined $732 million by EU for removing browser ballot box in Windows 7 SP1

browserchoice

Microsoft has just been fined 561 million euros (approximately $732 million) for breaking an antitrust agreement made in 2009.

In that agreement, Microsoft complied with the EU’s request to include a “browser ballot box” in every new copy of Windows which allows people to select their default browser for Windows. But due to what the company is calling a “technical error,” this was removed in Windows 7 SP1. According to the EU, this resulted in 15 million Windows users not seeing the ballot box and instead defaulting to Internet Explorer, hence the fine.

This $732 million fine isn’t quite as big as the previous EU fine on Microsoft ($1.44 billion), but it counts for 3 percent of the company’s profit for the whole 2012. And according to a statement by Microsoft, the company will not be seeking an appeal:

“We take full responsibility for the technical error that caused this problem and have apologized for it. We provided the Commission with a complete and candid assessment of the situation, and we have taken steps to strengthen our software development and other processes to help avoid this mistake – or anything similar – in the future.”

This has got to be one of the more expensive “technical errors” in recent tech world history.

[via The Verge]

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11 comments

  1. sl0j0n

    Hello, all.
    @ “DoktorThomas”:

    All hail the fearless leader!
    Thank you for pointing out the [obvious] problem.
    Now, *if* you could just do something about the idiots that keep voting, in spite of the fact that the only changes are for the worse.
    Seriously, its great to see somebody with the intelligence to understand that the ‘system’ is broken beyond repair.

    Have a GREAT day, neighbor!

  2. David Doney

    Being European I have to side with the EU

    The original reason for the bar is obvious.
    Microsoft was in Europe and still is in North America becoming to all intents and purposes a monopoly.

    They have added anti virus to win 8 so what is left to buy.

    The reason the bar is so important is not the fact that you or I can quite easily download a replacement its more to do with buyer apathy

    Microsoft knows full well that if they offer it a large portion of people will not bother to look for alternatives.

    The use this knowledge to keep the competition at bay.
    The advantage is less competition and more potential to buy up small software companies that are to small to compete directly with what is in effect free bundled software.

    It’s interesting to note that Linux is European in origin as is a lot of alternative products.

    Let’s keep competition alive if possible.

  3. DoktorThomas

    [@Tom] While it is true that there is no leader in the White house, it is the criminally clueless ones from the two majorly inept political parties who pretend to be representatives of the proletariat that are responsible for most of the malversation, reckless disregard, violation of fiduciary and wanton fiscal squandering that is destroying the nation. So even if Zerobama was struck by lightening, the nation would still be on its destruction course. How about #senate&congressgetalcue ?

  4. Ashraf
    Mr. Boss

    [@Ouchyyy!] It likely won’t o_O

    [@Mike] They aren’t appealing my guess is, because, they know they have no case. Plus its Win7, Microsoft wants to put that all behind them — they are on Win8. Microsoft can easily swallow this fine, they have billions in cash on the books.

    [@Seamus McSeamus] I agree. Microsoft deserved the fine but I am against the ballot box in the first place.

    [@Shawn] Huh?

    [@Tom] LMAO! Well said Tom, well said.

  5. Shawn

    48$ per system… not bad… I’ll make a virus that forces people to choose a web browser and send the bill to the EU… PROFIT…

    Seriously this is the dummest thing to add to a windows software expired before it’s even shipped out.. .that’s why we need patches and fixes all the friggin time.

    On my compaq restore this piece of garbage os with it’s restore disk re-installs netscape all the time and a java version that is so unstable that if I don’t un-install the crap before hooking up to the internet I get infected.

    EU next step will force microsoft to include all the linux/ unix builds and mac os crap because they wil want you to have a choice of OS installation also.

    Let’s hope the money from this fine at least will be put to good use..

  6. Seamus McSeamus

    I’d say Microsoft deserved a fine here, since they entered into an agreement and ultimately broke it. Technical error or not, they are still responsible for the screw up.

    That said, I think it’s silly that Microsoft has to provide a default browser option for EU consumers. When I install a new o/s from Microsoft, one of my first actions is to download my replacement(s) for IE. I don’t simply use IE because it’s what came with the installation. The EU apparently thinks its citizens are too moronic to be able to do the same thing.

    IMO, this falls into the same category as warning labels on coffee telling you it could be hot – ie: silly and unneeded.

  7. Mike

    Not to be cynical, but: if the big M is not appealing a near-three-quarters-of-a-billion-dollar penalty (!!), what sort of profit must it have made from the mistake? (And, was the engineer who is responsible for the “technical error” fired or given a promotion?)