Choice Screen Malfunction Costs Microsoft 561 Million Euros
Article by George Norman
On 06 Mar 2013
Antitrust regulators in the EU fined Microsoft €561million because the Choice Screen malfunctioned for a lengthy time on numerous Windows 7-powered machines. This is the first time a company failed to comply with an antitrust agreement.

A few years ago Opera Software complained that Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) web browser gets special treatment because it is bundled with Microsoft’s Windows operating system. This prompted EU antitrust regulators to launch an investigation into the matter. The whole thing ended with an agreement between Microsoft and the EU, agreement that would favor other browsers by giving users the chance to choose.


The December 2009 antitrust agreement went something like this: starting with March 2010, Microsoft would start to display a Choice Screen to the millions of Windows 7 users in the EU. Any Windows 7 customer who had IE set as the default browser would be presented with a ballot screen that introduced several other options – like Mozilla’s Firefox, Google’s Chrome, or Opera Software’s Opera browser. The use was thus given the chance to choose another browser or stick with Microsoft’s IE.

But it seems Microsoft did not respect the antitrust agreement with the EU. In July 2012 it was uncovered that Microsoft failed to comply the agreement. The company admitted that its Choice Screen did not reach some 28 million Windows 7 SP1 PCs, explaining that a software glitch was to blame and an update would address the situation.

Seems that all this software glitch situation did not go down well with the regulators. The European Commission fined Microsoft €561million (some $730 million, depending on the exchange rate) and noted that this was the first time that it has fined a company for not complying with a previous antitrust agreement.

“Legally binding commitments reached in antitrust decisions play a very important role in our enforcement policy because they allow for rapid solutions to competition problems. Of course, such decisions require strict compliance. A failure to comply is a very serious infringement that must be sanctioned accordingly,” Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia stated.

Tags: Microsoft, Windows 7, Internet Explorer, antitrut, EU, European Union, fine, Opera Software, Choice Screen
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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