The European Commission has decided the fine on Microsoft over the browser issue is going to be €561 million, or the equivalent of $732 million. That’s quite a hefty fine, and it seems as if they are sending out a warning to all the big technology companies, telling them that the rules will be enforced and that no company is too big to play by the rules.
In 2009 an antitrust lawsuit was filed in Europe, citing Microsoft for failing to give European users of Windows a choice of browsers, and instead leaving all of them to use Microsoft’s own Internet Explorer. This went on for over a year before anyone noticed that it was going on.
Microsoft admitted they were at fault and apologized last year, chalking it up to being a “technical issue” that they hadn’t noticed when updating Windows 7 and Windows 8 software. European Union’s competition commissioner, Joaquín Almunia, commented that “Legally binding commitments reached in antitrust decisions play a very important role in our enforcement policy.” In what seemed like a warning to others, perhaps Google, who also has an outstanding complaints against them, thanks to Microsoft, he continued, “failure to comply is a very serious infringement that must be sanctioned accordingly,” and that comes in the way of a very hefty fine on Microsoft.
As an Apple user, it’s hard to see this as an oversight on Microsoft’s part. They seemed very deliberate with the usage of Internet Explorer. Years ago, Explorer was shipped with Apple computers, and the practice was only stopped after Microsoft announced in 1999 they wouldn’t be updating the browser anymore for Macs. It left Mac users without an updated browser solution until Apple developed Safari in 2003. It didn’t always hit the mark, but at least it was up to date. A year later Firefox arrived in the way of help and Google Chrome a few years after that.
It certainly seems like Microsoft was creating a void purposely with the browser, and once they found they wouldn’t be having a monopoly with it that they decided to push their browser on others and not give them the choice of Firefox or Google Chrome. Had they kept Explorer open to everyone, including Apple users, many loyals would still be using it.
If you’re Google, you should be opening your eyes and realizing the E.U. isn’t taking any of this lightly. They’ve been charged with abusing their dominance in Internet search and advertising by giving their own products an advantage. Almunia offered them a settlement and they have yet to accept.
What do you think of the fine on Microsoft for failing to comply? Will this fine hurt them even more in their search for dominance in the industry? Was this a deliberate move on their part or was it really as accidental as they say? How will all of this affect the Google settlement?
Image credit: anything but IE