Microsoft May Be Fined Over Its EU Browser Snafu

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You may remember when Microsoft got into some trouble with the European Commission over some potential antitrust violations. The Commission accused Microsoft of not offering a choice of browser to over 28 million Windows 7 users in February 2011. Microsoft said they were sorry, and put the browser choice option back in. It apparently wasn't enough.

A report from the AFP says that the European Commission is going to go ahead with fining Microsoft. Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said that "the fault is there" when referring to what Microsoft called a "technical error." He also said that Microsoft's actions were a "distortion of competition."

Microsoft announced in July that they were immediately going to push the browser choice screen to new and existing users. They also hired an outside company to investigate the cause of the slip up. Even with their efforts to remedy the issue, the Commission seems hellbent on punishing Microsoft.

It's pointed out that Microsoft could face fines up to 10 percent of its annual turnover. In actual numbers, that would translate to about $7 billion. Needless to say, Microsoft doesn't want to face another heavy fine from the Commission.

To make up for it, Microsoft agreed to extend the time period they were required to show the browser choice screen by the number of months it was missing. The original agreement would see Microsoft displaying a browser choice screen until 2014, but it could be pushed back even further as a result of this.

The Commission hasn't announced the specifics yet, but we should know something soon. We'll keep you updated on any changes. A large fine isn't what Microsoft needs this year as they head into the holiday season with Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. It will be interesting to see how it progresses.

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