EU Competition Commission announces details of Microsoft fine

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The EU's Competition Commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, has said he is imposing a multi-million euro fine on software giant Microsoft for failing to comply with existing EU rulings.

Announcing the €561m fine on 6 March 2013, Commissioner Almunia criticised Microsoft's policy of failing to promote a range of web browsers rather than just Internet Explorer to users in the EU.

A previous investigation by the EU saw Microsoft introduce a "Browser Choice Screen pop-up" in March 2010, something that was dropped in a Windows 7 update in February 2011.

Microsoft blamed this on a "technical error" for which it took "full responsibility".

Commissioner Almunia said the fine was punishment for "a serious breach", highlighting that this was the first time a company had failed to meet commitments given to the EU in this way.

The case dates back to 2007 when Opera - a Norwegian web-browser maker - complained Microsoft was stifling competition on PCs by bundling Internet Explorer with its operating system.

Microsoft initially argued that the move benefited users, but after the European Commission issued a preliminary report suggesting the firm had abused its position, the company agreed to offer a choice of browser until at least 2014 to avoid risking a fine.

However, this option was missing from its Windows 7 Service Pack 1 released in 2011 and it continued to be absent for 14 months.

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