For over a year, Microsoft has been under the watch of the EU Commission regarding a perceived breach in EU competition law due to their “Windows” operating system being shipped with a pre-loaded internet browser. It was said that this was in breach of EU law and that Windows should give users the opportunity to select their browsers upon starting up their computer for the first time. While this was eventually implemented as an update in late 2012 to the current generations of Windows (Windows 7 and Windows 8), the Commission estimated that since the time the condition was imposed in 2011, over 15, million users were not given the opportunity to choose.
As a result, the EU has chosen to enforce their ruling against Microsoft with a fine of €561 million. This is the first time that the EU Commission has enforced such a measure. As the law stands, it could have fined Microsoft up to 10% of its global turnover or as much as €6 billion.
Microsoft has not had an easy relationship with the EU Commission. Over the years it has found itself under fire also for bundling Windows Media Player with Windows products. This was held as an abuse of dominant market position and caused them to incur fines as well. There was also some speculation around the time that Microsoft bought out the VoIP company “Skype” that this would be bundled with Windows as well. Fortunately, it seems Microsoft is learning from its previous missteps.
This ruling is under scrutiny by Google, one of Microsoft’s fellow software companies which is also under similar investigations over how it ranks search results. Google is just one of many similar companies who are under the watchful gaze of the Commission.