Microsoft could face $7bln fine for antitrust violation

Reuters/Ina Fassbender
The European Commission has opened an investigation into whether Microsoft has followed the antitrust commitments it made in 2009, warning that penalties for non-compliance would be "severe."

­The sanctions could hit the Windows operating system maker hard since the EU can fine the company up to 10%t of its global annual revenues which is about $7 billion.

There have been indications that Microsoft, has failed to provide customers with a screen from which they could choose different internet browsers other than its own Internet Explorer, says EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia .

Almunia added that it turned out to be that the “choice screen”, promised by Microsoft following an antitrust case in 2009, has not been provided since February 2011, meaning 28 million customers didn’t have a choice.

Microsoft responded to the accusations acknowledging it had "fallen short" of requirements to provide the browser choice screen, or BCS.

"Due to a technical error, we missed delivering the BCS software to PCs that came with the service pack 1 update to Windows 7," the statement said.
“We deeply regret that this error occurred and we apologize for it”.

The firm added that they have taken immediate steps to remedy the problem.

The company said, however that PCs running the original version of Windows 7, as well as Windows XP and Windows Vista, did have the “choice screen. 

As of December last year, Microsoft was claiming to the EC's antitrust commissioner that the choice screen was still available.

Almunia said this would be the first time that this type of legally binding agreement has not been complied with.

"Needless to say, we take compliance with our decision very seriously," he said. "If the infringement is confirmed, there will be sanctions."