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Microsoft in Hot Water (again) in Europe
Microsoft doesn’t seemed to have learned much from its anti-trust troubles in Europe which to date has cost the company over $2 billion in fines. Now new reports are surfacing that the software giant may be in trouble again over its continued bundling of Internet Explorer with its operating system, while not giving users adequate access to alternatives.
Under the terms of the anti-trust settlement reached in 2009, future versions of Windows would give users clear ways of choosing alternatives to Internet Explorer. But users in Europe were given no such alternatives with the launch of Windows 7 and after 28 million activations; European watchdogs started their own investigations.
In June of this year (2012), Microsoft got wind of the investigations and released a statement acknowledging its failure. Citing the fact that the company has “fallen short”, and that it had “deep regret” over the mistake, it had hoped European legislators would not dig deeper and consider another fine. Not the case however, and Joaquin Almunia, the current European Competition Commissioner, has made it clear what the EC’s position on the matter is: “We take compliance with our [original antitrust] decision very seriously. If the infringement is confirmed, there will be sanctions.”
There are several ways to slice and dice Microsoft’s continued move to bundle and offer no clear alternative, but perhaps the simplest analysis is bordered around the fact that the company knows users will eventually seek out and download other browsers anyway. Internet Explore still has a big chunk of the browser market, but that share is on a dwindling spiral, Microsoft obviously is willing to take a hit in fines to perpetuate, as long as possible, the default loading of its browser on all Windows computers.
The drama will of course thicken and when the fines are announced, we’ll certainly let you know about it.
Tell us how you feel about the persistent bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows using the comments below.