updated 11:26 am EDT, Thu September 27, 2012
Punishment remains unclear
European Union regulators are preparing to formally charge Microsoft for violating a 2009 commitment, according to EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia. Comments from the antitrust head suggest Microsoft is nearing punishment, potentially a sizable a fine, for failing to provide a browser-choice screen in its first Windows 7 service pack.
"The next step is to open a formal proceeding into the company's breach of an agreement," Almunia said. "We are working on this."
If the Commission determines that Microsoft is guilty of failing to comply with terms of the commitment, penalties could reach higher than $7 billion, 10 percent of its fiscal-year revenue, though particular details of a punishment have yet to be announced.
"It should not be a long investigation because the company itself explicitly recognized its breach of the agreement," Almunia added.
Microsoft admitted to omitting the browser-choice window from the Windows 7 service pack, however the company blames a "technical error" rather than a conscious decision to ignore the regulation. The 2009 agreement required the Windows operating system to provide a clear choice between web browsers, after regulators found the company guilty of antitrust violations over its Internet Explorer browser. [via Reuters]