Business, Economics and Jobs

EU sends Microsoft antitrust complaint


Microsoft blamed a technical error for not adhering to binding antitrust contract.



The European Union's executive arm has sent a formal antitrust complaint to Microsoft accusing the company of failing to give customers a choice among Internet browsers.

In 2009, the European Commission and Microsoft came to a deal where Microsoft promised to regulators to display a choice of browsers, allowing users to view their options. But in July of 2012, the Commission said the screen had not been displayed on many computers between February 2009 and July 2012, according to the Associated Press.

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told the AP, "Companies should be deterred from any temptation to renege on their promises or even to neglect their duties."

On Wednesday, Microsoft apologized for the mishandling, blaming a technical error on the screens not showing the options. In a statement a company spokesperson said, "We take this matter very seriously and moved quickly to address this problem as soon as we became aware of it. Although this was the result of a technical error, we take responsibility for what happened." 

According to Bloomberg, Microsoft said that it only learned that it wasn't offering its browser choice software to some 28 million computers running Windows 7 Service Pack 1, or 10 percent of the computers that should have received it, in July of 2012. Microsoft added that it is already distributing new software to help fix the problem. 

The New York Times noted that Microsoft faces a potential fine of up to 10 percent of a company’s global annual revenue, or $7 billion. Analysts added that it is unlikely to reach this level. Microsoft has four weeks to respond to the formal complaint.