Microsoft may face hefty fines over lack of browser choice in Windows 7

Microsoft has conventionally released Windows with Internet Explorer as its default browser. This, it has been argued, leads to a distortion of competition in the browser market. As a result, European Union had bound Microsoft to introduce a ‘browser choice’ in Windows 7, so as to let Windows 7 users install a browser other than IE.

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However, Microsoft didn’t include the update in Windows 7 with service pack 1, copies of which were given to nearly 28 million users! So essentially, these users were deprived of the ‘browser choice’ when they received those copies.

The European Commission had been notified of this lapse on Microsoft’s part and has been looking into it. As soon as it was discovered, Microsoft apologized and said that it was the result of a mistake that the company learnt of only recently.

However, European Competition Commissioner is not taking the matter lightly. In a recent interview he said, “The fault is there, it has been there for more than a year and it is clear that we need to react. It is not only the distortion of competition during this period which concerns us; it is very serious, from my point of view, that the remedies imposed on Microsoft have not been applied.”

If indeed the Commission decides to punish Microsoft for the mistake, the company may have to face a whopping fine of up to $7.37 billion which is the equivalent of ten percent of its 2012 annual turnover.

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