EU Readying New Microsoft Antitrust Complaint – Report

Microsoft could be subject to another fine after it failed to offer browser choice to 28 million Windows 7 PCs

EU regulators are reportedly ready to hit Microsoft with an antitrust complaint over the company’s failure to obey a settlement that allowed Windows users a choice of web browsers.

Microsoft agreed to offer its customers such a selection in 2009 and told regulators as recently as December that it was complying with the settlement.

However the EU launched an investigation after it was discovered that Microsoft was not offering its browser choice software to some 28 million computers running Windows 7 Service Pack 1 since February 2011 and warned of “severe consequences” for the computing giant.

Microsoft Antitrust

Microsoft claimed that it had only been aware of the error since July and stressed that it was caused by a technical glitch. It volunteered to extend its agreement until March 2016 as evidence of its commitment to the 2009 settlement.

There is apparently no schedule for the EC to send the statement of objections which lists alleged violations of competition rules. The statement is often the precursor to a fine, which is capped at ten percent of yearly revenue.

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in July that Microsoft may have misled regulators and any fine would add to the €1.68 billion total of antitrust fines levied on the company. This figure includes an €899 million penalty for failing to comply with an order to share data with its competitors.

Any potential fine could take into account repeat offences and Almunia has previously made reference to a 2008 penalty relating to Microsoft’s failure to comply to another earlier decision.

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