Busted: EU Levies $732 Million Antitrust Fine Against Microsoft, Admits Weak Oversight
After Microsoft got itself in hot water with the EU several years ago over making its Internet Explorer the default Web browser on computers running Windows--which, it was decided, was an antitrust violation that gave Microsoft an unfair advantage over the competition--EU officials mandated that Microsoft present users with a “browser ballot” page that let them select their preferred browser from a list.
The Browser Ballot
That was all fine and dandy until SP1 rolled out and made that screen disappear. It was probably a simple mistake, some minor technical error, but it violated the EU's ruling nevertheless. So why has it taken so long for the EU to catch up on its fines? Because they trusted Microsoft to monitor itself and stick to the rules of the previous settlement.
The EU's Joaquín Almunia
At some point, the browser ballot disappearance got back to the EU, resulting in today’s fine of $732 billion. To the EU’s credit, its top competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia copped to the group’s failure to oversee its own ruling and pledged to take a stronger hand in such matters in the future.