Google and Opera grassed up Microsoft to the EC
A report claims it was Google who tipped off the European Commission (EC) about Microsoft’s violation of a 2009 settlement in which it agreed to offer Windows users in Europe a choice of web browsers.
According to the Financial Times, both Google and Opera alerted the EC that Microsoft had not offered the choice to around 28 million PC’s running Windows 7 Service Pack 1 between February 2011 and July 2012.
The error had apparently gone unnoticed by both the EC and Microsoft, which admitted the mistake and swiftly issued a fix for Windows 7 and Windows 8. However this was not enough to avoid a €561 million (£485m) fine handed down by the EC earlier this week, the first time that the Commission has ever punished a company for breaking an antitrust settlement.
Microsoft antitrust fine tip-off
The news that it was one of its rivals will add insult to injury for Microsoft, but ironically, Google’s tip-off could have implications for Google’s own antitrust settlement negotiations with the EC.
The search giant is currently under investigation over allegations that by giving preference to its own services, it is harming competition and denying consumers access to better quality of information. The EC aims, either through a settlement or through legal action, to change the way Google presents its search results, but not the underlying algorithm.
It is understood that both parties would prefer to reach an agreement that would prevent the need for a lengthy legal battle, but European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia has said that the fine issued to Microsoft was intended to be a warning to other companies not to break any future settlement.
Previously, it was up to the company to ensure its compliance with any settlement, but Almunia has said that the EC would be far more vigilant in enforcing future agreements.
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