Microsoft gets hefty fine for not giving Windows users browser choice

Feels the wrath of the EU

Browser Ballot

The European Commission has come down hard on Microsoft for failing to make it easy for Windows users to choose their browser between May 2011 and July 2012 with a hefty $731 million (around £485m, AUS$712m) fine.

An estimated 15 million Windows users in the EU were not given the option to select their browser during this time despite the EU ruling that Microsoft must give them a choice.

The Browser Choice Screen software was not found in PCs that came with the Service Pack 1 update to Windows 7 during the May 2011 to July 2012 period, which meant that it may have seemed to Windows users that they had to use Microsoft's own Internet Explorer browser.

Microsoft said this was an accident, blaming a technical error for the omission.

EU're in trouble

The company said it wouldn't be challenging the punishment in a statement: "We take full responsibility for the technical error that caused this problem and have apologised for it.

"We provided the Commission with a complete and candid assessment of the situation, and we have taken steps to strengthen our software development and other processes to help avoid this mistake – or anything similar – in the future."

If the $731 million fine sounds harsh to Microsoft, it should be happy that it isn't a lot worse. The Commission says that the amount takes into account the fact that the company co-operated and provided it with information when requested.