Behind Microsoft's $732M Fine: Snitch Named Google

EU competition watchdog levies heavy penalty to 'punish and deter'

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 7, 2013 4:08 AM CST

(Newser) – Microsoft got thumped with a $732 million fine issued by the EU antitrust enforcer yesterday for violating the terms of a 2009 deal—thanks to Google and Opera, reports the Financial Times. Microsoft had then promised to offer consumers a choice of Internet browser instead of making Explorer Windows' automatic default. But the "choice screen" displaying users' options disappeared from 15 million computers sold from February 2011 to July 2012, a breach Microsoft called a "technical error," reports the Wall Street Journal. The FT notes that it was Google and Opera who noticed the violation and alerted the watchdog, per sources.

The fine is the first time Brussels has punished a company for breaching a settlement, and the EU’s competition authority said the size of the fine was designed to "punish and deter," noting companies "must do what they committed to do or face the consequences." Google had no comment on the decision, but Opera said it was "happy to see that the commission is enforcing compliance with the commitment, which is critical to ensuring a genuine choice among web browsers for consumers." In a look at Google's snitching for the Atlantic Wire, Adam Clark Estes notes that "some would say that Microsoft had it coming to them," pointing out the company has spent months "trolling Google" with its Scroogled campaign.

Google's Chrome browser shortcut is shown next to Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser shortcut during a news conference at Google Inc. headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., Tuesday, Spet. 2, 2008.
Google's Chrome browser shortcut is shown next to Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser shortcut during a news conference at Google Inc. headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., Tuesday, Spet. 2, 2008.   (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
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