EU fines Microsoft 561M euros for not giving customers a choice of browser

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Microsoft's penalties with the European Union continue to grow, as the organization hit the Windows maker with another 561-million euro fine on Wednesday.

In all, Microsoft will have paid 2.24 billion euros in penalties assessed by the EU in the last decade, according to The Independent. The latest fine asserts that Microsoft has failed to provide Windows customers with alternative browsers to its own Internet Explorer.

European Commission HQ


In a settlement with the EU in 2009, Microsoft agreed to offer customers easy access to competing browsers such as Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. But 28 million machines running Windows 7 Service Pack 1 were not given a browser choice, leading to Wednesday's fine.

The terms of the agreement required Microsoft to give users a choice of the 12 most widely used browsers. Among those is Apple's Safari browser, which remains available for Windows, but has not been updated to Safari 6 like its Mac OS X counterpart.

Following the announcement of Microsoft's latest fine, the EU issued a warning to other companies to not violate legally binding agreements, or else "face the consequences," said Joaquin Almunia, the EU's competition commissioner.

"I hope this decision will make companies think twice before they even think of intentionally breaching their obligations or even of neglecting their duty to ensure strict compliance," he said.

Microsoft issued a statement noting that the company has apologized for the error. It previously blamed the disappearance of the so-called "browser ballot" on a technical error.

Last year, the EU had set its sights on Apple and other book publishers over price fixing allegations. That probe was ended in late 2012 after regulators accepted a deal from those being investigated. However, Apple remains a target of the U.S. Department of Justice over the same allegations.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 56
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    I would understand if this was the original antitrust issue with Netscape but I think it's foolish to require to sell an OS with the options built in. Especially 12 different options which I find ridiculous. If you really want to use a different browser you can use IE to download it just as you can use Safari on OS X to do the same, or various Linux distros that only came with one browser pre-installed.

    This appears to be using MS to set an example. I don't care for this tactic in the courts. Each case should be fair and balanced for that case, not trying to prevent others from breaking the "law" by being extra harsh to one defendant.
  • Reply 2 of 56
    igrivigriv Posts: 1,177member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post



    I would understand if this was the original antitrust issue with Netscape but I think it's foolish to require to sell an OS with the options built in. Especially 12 different options which I find ridiculous. If you really want to use a different browser you can use IE to download it just as you can use Safari on OS X to do the same, or various Linux distros that only came with one browser pre-installed.



    This appears to be using MS to set an example. I don't care for this tactic in the courts. Each case should be fair and balanced for that case, not trying to prevent others from breaking the "law" by being extra harsh to one defendant.


     


    Given that MS is not the monopoly it used to be, I agree this is silly (and since we are talking about almost a billion dollar fine, really not kosher).. As you point out, Apple only ships Safari with OS X, but I am not sure that Safari has a great (if any) lead over chrome on the Mac (overall, Chrome seems to be the in the lead, see http://www.w3counter.com/globalstats.php,  but the browser numbers are not broken out by OS). Clearly, IE is not losing the browser wars to Chrome et al.

  • Reply 3 of 56

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post



    I would understand if this was the original antitrust issue with Netscape but I think it's foolish to require to sell an OS with the options built in. Especially 12 different options which I find ridiculous. If you really want to use a different browser you can use IE to download it just as you can use Safari on OS X to do the same, or various Linux distros that only came with one browser pre-installed.



    This appears to be using MS to set an example. I don't care for this tactic in the courts. Each case should be fair and balanced for that case, not trying to prevent others from breaking the "law" by being extra harsh to one defendant.


    I tend to agree with your last paragraph.


     


    I think Microsoft is going to face this issue for the foreseeable future as Windows still dominates the desktop. At some point they may be able to argue that tablets are also part of the greater "PC" space and thus they don't have a monopoly, but until then, they'll have to offer up choices of browser (which is what they got in trouble for before, bundling IE and therefore monopolizing the desktop browser space due to their desktop monopoly).

  • Reply 4 of 56


    The EU likes to hand down big fines. Just wait until Samsung has to pay up for their abuse of FRAND patents against Apple. I think the MS fines (and Samsungs previous fines) are going to look like a good deal compared to what's coming.

  • Reply 5 of 56
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 18,871member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post



    This appears to be using MS to set an example. I don't care for this tactic in the courts. Each case should be fair and balanced for that case, not trying to prevent others from breaking the "law" by being extra harsh to one defendant.


    Couldn't agree more.


     


    In the meantime, it is laughable to see how easily Google is able to run roughshod over these eurocrats....

  • Reply 6 of 56
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,198member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post



    I would understand if this was the original antitrust issue with Netscape but I think it's foolish to require to sell an OS with the options built in. 


     


    1. They aren't selling with all the choices built in. The settlement was that no full on browser, including their own, would be built in and there will be a screen in the initial start up, or on the desktop, to a lite browser whose purpose was to allow folks to pick and download the browser they want to use.


     


    2. MS marketshare may have come down but they are still the dominant so they are, in the EUs judgement, still in a position to abuse their standing


     


    3. They violated the settlement. This is the price. Just like the guy who goes to jail for drug dealing, got out on parole and is told he can't talk to his old drug dealing buddies but does. He gets caught, he goes back to jail. 

  • Reply 7 of 56
    clemynxclemynx Posts: 1,509member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post



    I would understand if this was the original antitrust issue with Netscape but I think it's foolish to require to sell an OS with the options built in. Especially 12 different options which I find ridiculous. If you really want to use a different browser you can use IE to download it just as you can use Safari on OS X to do the same, or various Linux distros that only came with one browser pre-installed.



    This appears to be using MS to set an example. I don't care for this tactic in the courts. Each case should be fair and balanced for that case, not trying to prevent others from breaking the "law" by being extra harsh to one defendant.


     


    I agree, it seems a bit too much. But if I remember correctly, the EU gave them several warning, and they had the chance to respect the law. They obviously didn't.


    I thought this story had ended long ago.

  • Reply 8 of 56
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

    If you really want to use a different browser you can use IE to download it…


     


    See, the EU fails to realize that this is the only reason people use IE in the first place. image





    Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post

    Just wait until Samsung has to pay up for their abuse of FRAND patents against Apple.


     


    You mean "just wait until Apple has to quintuple cover Samsung's court costs and pay a billion in damages to Samsung's reputation".

  • Reply 9 of 56
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    charlituna wrote: »
    1. They aren't selling with all the choices built in. The settlement was that no full on browser, including their own, would be built in and there will be a screen in the initial start up, or on the desktop, to a lite browser whose purpose was to allow folks to pick and download the browser they want to use.

    2. MS marketshare may have come down but they are still the dominant so they are, in the EUs judgement, still in a position to abuse their standing

    3. They violated the settlement. This is the price. Just like the guy who goes to jail for drug dealing, got out on parole and is told he can't talk to his old drug dealing buddies but does. He gets caught, he goes back to jail. 

    I'm well aware of what's happening and why, I just don't agree with it. I find it to be unjust in many aspects, including being 20 million Euro per license. We can say that MS had it coming, that's it's karma for all their illegal monopolistic behaviour in the past but that would only justify the excessive fine for having them do something that was foolish in the first place.

    When it comes to huge corporations I care very little but it's the principle of an unjust ruling that bothers me. This happens in courts all around the world against individual people who don't have the means to defend themselves. That is my real issue here, not that MS has to dig slightly deeper into their pockets to pay a fine.
  • Reply 10 of 56
    clemynxclemynx Posts: 1,509member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    Couldn't agree more.


     


    In the meantime, it is laughable to see how easily Google is able to run roughshod over these eurocrats....





    That's because there isn't a good legal environment yet. The problem is worse with FB in my opinion. They retain information even after an account has been close. But the EU is starting to legislate on those matters, and it would be time for the US to do it as well.

  • Reply 11 of 56
    pedromartinspedromartins Posts: 1,333member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ClemyNX View Post


     


    I agree, it seems a bit too much. But if I remember correctly, the EU gave them several warning, and they had the chance to respect the law. They obviously didn't.


    I thought this story had ended long ago.



    Again, in this case, the law is stupid.


     


    We have choice now, we are not forced to use crappy windows machines anymore. So, if Microsoft wants to give a certain user experience with their services (browser, mail app, etc) like Apple does, they have every right to do so. It's their product. Don't like it? Don't buy it, buy an iOS/OSX/Android/linux device instead.


     


    They should block that chrome spyware thing.

  • Reply 12 of 56
    dbkkdbkk Posts: 1member
    Microsoft has been warned numerous times. If the EU does not react, they loose any credibility.

    Its NOT "only Microsoft" as was mentioned before: Intel was fined over a billion EUR in recent years and Google has an ongoing anti-trust investigation against it that might soon result in a fine at least as high as the Microsoft one.

    Also, the maximum fine for Microsoft could have theoretically been 105 of its global revenues (which is crazy,I agree), in this case it "only" represented about 1%. So they should consider themselves lucky :)
  • Reply 13 of 56
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 18,871member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by dbkk View Post

    ..... and Google has an ongoing anti-trust investigation against it that might soon result in a fine at least as high as the Microsoft one.


    Yawn.....


     


    When the EU is able/willing to do something significant about Google, wake me up.

  • Reply 14 of 56
    johnnashjohnnash Posts: 128member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by charlituna View Post


     


    1. They aren't selling with all the choices built in. The settlement was that no full on browser, including their own, would be built in and there will be a screen in the initial start up, or on the desktop, to a lite browser whose purpose was to allow folks to pick and download the browser they want to use.


     


    2. MS marketshare may have come down but they are still the dominant so they are, in the EUs judgement, still in a position to abuse their standing


     


    3. They violated the settlement. This is the price. Just like the guy who goes to jail for drug dealing, got out on parole and is told he can't talk to his old drug dealing buddies but does. He gets caught, he goes back to jail. 



    Not siding with anyone here, just a comment.


     


    I would think that adding a small browser to the desktop JUST to download another browser if someone wants to actually would make it HARDER on the consumer than if IE is installed by default.  How many people here have had to help Mom, Grandma (etc) with installing software in the past?  I can also say from my experiences in IT, that age doesn't really matter as I've dealt with plenty of people of all age ranges that truly have no clue on how to install software or do any of a range of simple tasks.


     


    My point?  If someone wants to install a second/alternative browser, then they are going to be more technically inclined to begin with.  Item #1 just makes it harder for everyone involved.

  • Reply 15 of 56
    clemynxclemynx Posts: 1,509member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by pedromartins View Post


    Again, in this case, the law is stupid.


     


    We have choice now, we are not forced to use crappy windows machines anymore. So, if Microsoft wants to give a certain user experience with their services (browser, mail app, etc) like Apple does, they have every right to do so. It's their product. Don't like it? Don't buy it, buy an iOS/OSX/Android/linux device instead.


     


    They should block that chrome spyware thing.





    Yes, but this affair is more than 10 years old. The law may be stupid, that doesn't change that you have to respect it, then after maybe try to change it.

  • Reply 16 of 56
    monstrositymonstrosity Posts: 2,182member


    EU should forget about this now. The browser wars are over. Webkit won.

  • Reply 17 of 56
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,635member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


     


    You mean "just wait until Apple has to quintuple cover Samsung's court costs and pay a billion in damages to Samsung's reputation".



     


    Don't understand this?  What are you implying?

  • Reply 18 of 56
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Originally Posted by Crowley View Post

    Don't understand this?  What are you implying?




    That Apple will lose and be forced to pay Samsung. Seems to be the way cases go.

  • Reply 19 of 56
    smiffy31smiffy31 Posts: 170member


    One quick question, does chromeOS allow changing the default browser ?

     

  • Reply 20 of 56
    igrivigriv Posts: 1,177member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post


    EU should forget about this now. The browser wars are over. Webkit won.



     


    What? The world's most popular browser is Chrome:


     


    http://www.w3counter.com/globalstats.php

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