Tech giant Microsoft is facing sanctions by the EU, for its failure to comply with the commitment to include competitors’ browsers. Microsoft has apologized in a statement, but this time, an apology doesn’t seem enough.
It’s more than a slap on the wrist, but not as bad as it could have been. The EU fined Microsoft 732 million dollars for an antitrust case centered around its browser, Internet Explorer. Under EU law, the penalty could have run into the billions of dollars.
"Today the Commission adopted a decision sanctioning Microsoft for its failure to comply with the legally binding commitments which it made to the Commission."
-commitments that Microsoft made years ago to modify its operating system to include competitors’ browsers like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox through a so-called "choice screen." Microsoft complied at first, but a later version of its operating system didn’t include the other browsers.
"As a consequence, during more than one year, exactly during 14 months, until July 2012, around 15 million users - more exactly 15.3 million users - did not see the choice screen as they should have."
Microsoft says it was a mistake and changed things as soon as it realized it. In a statement it said: "We take full responsibility for the technical error that caused this problem and have apologized for it." Anti-trust law expert Scott Hemphill says an apology isn’t enough.
"I think the signal is if you do a deal with the commission, you better stick to it and you better get it right. Inadvertent failures, even minor failures are things that the European Commission is going to take very seriously."
This is a tale Google would be wise to heed. The company is currently negotiating with the EU over an antitrust case focused on Google’s dominance in the search and advertising business. A final agreement may not come until later this year.