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Europe hits Microsoft with fine

March 6, 2013

The European Commission has fined US software giant Microsoft for breaching the terms of an antitrust deal it had reached with the company. The Commission said that Europeans were not granted a choice of Web browsers.

A photo ilustration shows a computer screen with the Internet Explorer browser logo and internet web sites.(Photo ilustration: Simon Chavez/dpa)
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

The EU executive on Wednesday slapped a 561-million-euro ($731 million) fine on the US software company Microsoft for what it called a breach of an anti-monopolies deal that the firm had previously agreed to.

The European Commission found that Microsoft had failed to offer Windows 7 users a choice of Internet browsers in line with a five-year accord reached between the two sides in 2009.

"Microsoft failed to rollout the browser choice screen with its Windows 7 Service Pack 1 from May 2011 until July 2012," the Commission announced in a statement.

Not a first

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said that the US company's failure to comply with legally binding commitments was "a very serious infringement that must be sanctioned accordingly."

As early as October of last year, Microsoft apologized for the mistake, citing a technical error as the cause and insisting that it had not been out to abuse its market dominance.

Wednesday's fine was far below the maximum 10 percent of revenues the EU's executive could have fined in antitrust proceedings, which in Microsoft's case would have been about $7 billion. All in all, the EU has now fined Microsoft a total of almost 2.2 billion euros, including sanctions imposed on three previous occasions.

hg/mkg (dpa, Reuters)