By Vamien McKalin email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Mar 07, 2013 08:58 AM EST
Microsoft did something that no other company has done before, and that was failing to keep up its own end of a bargain made with the EU Regulators back in 2009.
The binding commitment made in 2009 between Microsoft and the EU was to ensure that all consumers who bought a Windows-based PC would have the choice of choosing which browser to use, instead of defaulting to Internet Explorer. Unfortunately, Microsoft failed to honor that obligation, and issued software between May 2011 and June 2012 that didn't give users a choice.
The investigation in the matter has proven that over 15 million users were not given a choice, putting Microsoft in a position where it has to pay $733 million to EU regulators. That sizeable amount is more than 11 percent Microsoft's net profit, but that's OK, the company has $68 billion in cash reserves, so paying off a debt of $733 million shouldn't be much of a problem.
"If companies agree to offer commitments which then become legally binding, they must do what they have committed to do or face the consequences," according to EU's competition commissioner, Joaquin Almunia. "I hope this decision will make companies think twice before they even think of intentionally breaching their obligations or even of neglecting their duty to ensure strict compliance."
Microsoft said it apologized for what happened, and called it a mistake. This is one huge mistake if you think about it, and quite surprising that not a single employee was fired over this.
"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," Microsoft said in a statement.
Microsoft may or may not appeal the ruling.
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