Microsoft fined $711 million by EU for failing to add a browser ballet

The European Union has just fined Microsoft €561 million for breaking a 2009 antitrust agreement, which they broke by not including a ballet box in Windows 7 Service Pack 1 to give users an option to install one of 12 web browsers, rather than just Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

At the time, Microsoft agreed to give options for customers to install a default browser from one of 12 options via a ballet box, however, due to a “technical error” Service Pack 1 removed this feature. Last July the EU formally started investigating and in October Microsoft was found to have broken the rules.
Today’s €561 million fine is equal to over three percent of the company’s profit for 2012. The fine was based on the extent of the offence; 15 million users not getting the option of the ballet box, plus Microsoft’s co-operation in settling the matter. Microsoft is quite lucky though, as the European Union has told that they could have been fined 10% of their yearly profits.

Microsoft said that they would not contest the fine, issuing a statement saying:

“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.”

So almost 20 years after their decision to bundle a web browser with Window, it looks like it’s still causing a few problems for dear old Microsoft.

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