Microsoft is facing a massive fine from the European Commission after removing the Browser Choice Screen from copies of Windows 7 back in February 2011.
The Browser Choice Screen existed so as to give Windows users across Europe a choice as to what web browser to use by default. It caused a bit of a headache for Microsoft when Windows 7 launched as Internet Explorer was so heavily integrated into the OS and Vista that came before it. But it worked out and European users got to make a choice.
Then in February 2011 a Windows Update that installed Windows 7 Service Pack 1 removed the choice screen from the operating system. Microsoft explained that this was done in error, but it didn’t reappear for 14 months. Obviously the European Commission wasn’t happy, especially as during that period Microsoft claimed it was still allowing users the browser choice option.
Microsoft has since apologized and co-operated with the EC investigation that followed. They could have been fined as much as $7.4 billion (10 percent of the company’s revenue in 2012), but the fine has now been set at a still massive $731 million. The reason it remains so high is because the EC wants to make it clear no company can get away with what they class as a “serious breach” of an antitrust infringement procedure commitment.
It seems that Microsoft has little choice other than to pay the fine and move on. You can be sure that a few extra checks will be made to Windows updates in future as not even Microsoft can afford to pay out that much money on a regular basis.
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