Microsoft falters on EU browsers- coughs up $731 million fine - MSFT, GOOG & INTC

Northern, WI 03/07/2013 (usmarketsdaily) - European regulators have slapped a fine of $731 million (561 million euros) on Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) for violation of settlement terms that were meant to provide its users web browser choices apart from its own Internet Explorer.

Microsoft has been in antitrust clashes with the EU for over a decade now and the current fine which is close to 1 percent of the Microsoft 2012 revenues now brings the total EU fine figure to 2.24 billion euros. This includes and initial fine of 899 million euros that Microsoft had to pay for not obeying a competitor data-sharing order by the EU.

Everyone has to fall in line

As part of a settlement in 2009, the world’s largest software-maker had agreed to offer its users access to other browsers as well, the idea being to mend its relationship with the regulators of the bloc. Last July, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) said that it learned only in that month that the browser choice software was not offered on close to 28 million computers that run Windows 7 Service Pack 1. They said that 10 percent of the computers were meant to have received it. The fine is a very large one but Microsoft is a big, sophisticated company that had failed to honor a commitment that they had made said Whiddington, a Filed Fisher Waterhouse LLP lawyer.

Amends being made

The Commission considers commitments to be of utmost importance as that is what keeps the policing of its rules and the mechanics running smoothly. In an e-mailed statement Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) said that the company assumes complete responsibility for the technical glitch and that that due apologies have been made. They also said that the commission has been provided with a candid and detailed assessment of the situation and that appropriate steps have been taken to strengthen the company’s software development as well as other processes to avoid a repeat or any other similar mistake in the future.

Stringent measures in the future

Steve Ballmer, the Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) CEO’s annual bonus was cut down last year to $620,000, in part due to the EU browser issues as well as the online services unit’s disappointing results. Joaquin Aluminia, the EU Competition Commissioner said that the regulators had been naïve in permitting Microsoft to monitor its own compliance and that in the future all reports will be thoroughly checked and the trustee who has been appointed to monitor any settlement will be asked to provide complete details. He is hoping that this will make companies such as Microsoft think twice before breaking ay agreements or rules.

Shares of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) went down by 0.92% to close at $28.09

Shares of Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) went down by 0.86% to close at $831.38

Shares of Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) went up by 1.12% to close at $21.75

About the Author

Bob Coper graduated from the University of Dayton with majors in political science and journalism. Bob is a Social and tax policy reporter. Bob Coper has also written numerous feature reports and contributed foreign policy pieces. Bob Coper has covered nine political conventions, Congress, the White House, the Pentagon, the FCC, K Street, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, the State House.

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