Reuters, citing two people familiar with the matter, is reporting that the European Union is planning to fine Microsoft before the end of March for not including a choice of rival browsers in some PCs sold in Europe.
Reuters did not give a dollar figure for the fine but reported “the size of the fine could be significant because this is the second time that Microsoft has failed to comply with an EU order.”
The matter is related to Microsoft’s antitrust battle with the EU.
In October, the European Commission, the regulatory arm of the EU, had charged Microsoft with breaking a promise it had made in 2009 to provide a browser choice screen allowing users to choose a browser other than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.
Microsoft had made its pledge to provide a browser choice screen as part of its antitrust settlement with the EU. The EU had contended that Microsoft used the dominance of its Windows operating system to gain users for IE.
Microsoft had acknowledged earlier that it had “fallen short in our responsibility” to provide a browser choice screen, attributing it to a technical error.
The company had also said in a statement that: “We take this matter very seriously and moved quickly to address this problem as soon as we became aware of it. Although this was the result of a technical error, we take responsibility for what happened, and we have taken steps to strengthen our internal procedures to help ensure something like this cannot happen again.”
Both Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and former Windows President Steven Sinofsky had been dinged by the Microsoft board last year for that error, with the board declining to give them their full bonuses.