The European Union today issued a $733 million fine against Microsoft for not including a browser choice screen on some PCs running Windows that sold in Europe.
It is the first time a fine has been levied against a company for failing to keep its commitment to the European Commission, the regulatory arm of the EU, according to The Associated Press.
The fine stems from a promise Microsoft made in 2009, as part of its antitrust settlement with the EU, to provide a browser choice screen allowing users to choose a browser other than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. The EU had contended that Microsoft used the dominance of Windows to gain users for IE.
For its part, Microsoft said that not including the browser choice screen had been a technical error, acknowledging that it had fallen short in its responsibility to do so. 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.
Microsoft, in a statement issued today, said: “We take full responsibility for the technical error that caused this problem and have apologized for it. We provided the Commission with a complete and candid assessment of the situation, and we have taken steps to strengthen our software development and other processes to help avoid this mistake — or anything similar — in the future.”