Microsoft hit with huge EU fine

EU competition regulators have fined Microsoft €561m (£484m) for breaking a promise to offer European consumers a choice of web browser.

Internet Explorer market share halved since 2008

Internet Explorer (IE)'s market share is seen in blue. Credit: StatCounter

Microsoft has been fined £484m by EU regulators for breaking a promise to offer European consumers a choice of web browser.

A web browser is a computer programme that allows a user to read internet pages.

Microsoft's share of the European browser market has more than halved since 2008 to 24%.

Google's Chrome has a 35% share, followed by Mozilla's Firefox with 29%, according to Web traffic analysis company StatCounter.

Internet Explorer is currently in third place, ahead of Apple's Safari.

Microsoft blames lack of choice on technical error

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer pictured during a presentation last year. Credit: Tass

The Windows 7 service pack 1, rolled out between mid-2011 and mid-2012, failed to offer consumers a choice of browser, leading to the EU investigation that resulted in today's fine.

Microsoft said the failure was the result of a technical error and that procedures have since been tightened.

In what was seen as an acknowledgement of the severity of the mistake, the board cut the bonus of chief executive Steve Ballmer last year, according to company's annual reports.

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EU fines Microsoft £484m for not offering web browser choice

Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser seen viewing the ITV News website.

EU antitrust regulators fined Microsoft €561m (£484m) today for breaking a promise to offer European consumers a choice of web browser.

Microsoft had made the pledge in 2009 in settling an antitrust investigation in Europe, where the software group's regulatory troubles date from the last decade and have cost it a total of €2.16bn, including the latest fine.

Microsoft promised to offer European consumers a choice of rival browsers in the previous version of its Windows operating system.

But the European Commission, which acts as competition regulator across the 27-member European Union, said it found the company broke that undertaking between May 2011 and July 2012.