EC Won’t Let Microsoft Off the Hook for Botching Browser Ballot
The European Commission today handed Microsoft a statement of objections, accusing it of failing to comply with its pledge to offer Windows users a choice of Web browsers.
Under the terms of a 2009 antitrust settlement with the EC, Microsoft was to present Windows users with a ballot screen offering them the chance to replace Internet Explorer with an alternative browser. And it did do that, initially. But, with an update to Windows 7 issued in early 2011, Microsoft unwittingly killed the ballot screen, and didn’t realize it had done so until it was alerted by the EC on July 2. And while the company corrected the error and apologized profusely for it, that hasn’t done much to ease the EC’s ire.
“If companies enter into commitments, they must do what they have committed to do or face the consequences,” European competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia said today in remarks to the press. “Therefore, companies should be deterred from any temptation to renege on their promises or even to neglect their duties.”
Hence, the EC’s statement of objections, which is another step toward a possible fine — one that could be as high as 10 percent of Microsoft’s global annual revenue.
Little wonder, then, that Microsoft is doubling down today on its apology.
“We take this matter very seriously and moved quickly to address this problem as soon as we became aware of it,” the company said in a statement. “Although this was the result of a technical error, we take responsibility for what happened, and we are strengthening our internal procedures to help ensure something like this cannot happen again.”