You best not mess with the European Union. Microsoft found that out the hard way this week when the European Commission fined the software giant $731 million.
What such a hit? The EU doesn't take kindly to broken promises, and in 2009 Microsoft promised to include a ballot screen in Windows that, upon boot up, offers users a choice of browsers such as Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox and Opera.
In Windows software issued between May 2011 and July 2012, Microsoft failed to include the promised browser ballot.
Microsoft has admitted wrongdoing and apologized for the "technical error." But I have to ask: How hard is it to include a damn browser ballot screen in Windows, especially after you've signed an agreement with government officials that's illegal not to include it? It's not as if Microsoft screwed up a few shipments of Windows. The company neglected to include the ballot screen for an entire year.
Someone at Microsoft is either sound asleep at the wheel or the company just isn't taking the EU's demands very seriously.
Steep as the fine is, Microsoft is a very very wealthy company (with $51 billion in offshore cash as of 2011) and can afford to pay the $731 million bones without losing much sleep.
Here's a round-up of stories from around the Web on the EU's decision to fine Microsoft yet again.
The European Commission is fining Microsoft $731 million for failing to help consumers make a fair choice about which web browser they'll regularly use after buying a desktop PC. The bottom line for Microsoft: the desktop browser wars are an old distraction next to the bigger battle over mobile phones, and that $731 million fine looks like pocket change anyway. (Forbes)
Insanity, according to Narcotics Anonymous, "is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results." If that's true then Microsoft has apparently gone nuts, writes Networkworld's Mark Gibbs. (Networkworld)
The European Union fined Microsoft Corp 561 million euros ($731 million) on Wednesday for failing to offer users a choice of web browser, an unprecedented sanction that will act as a warning to other firms involved in EU antitrust disputes. (Reuters)
Microsoft may have to pay out a substantial 561 million euros (US $731 million) fine over its business practices. But the total bill could have been even higher, according to Europe's antitrust chief. (IDG News Service)