Microsoft fined €561m by EU antitrust bosses

MICROSOFT was yesterday fined €561m (£485m) by the European Commission for abusing its market dominance to promote its web browser, Internet Explorer.

Europe’s competition commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, said the company had failed to live up to promises it had made to offer a range of browsers to customers booting up its Windows software.

Almunia said this had given Microsoft an unfair advantage, due to Windows – which comes with Internet Explorer installed – being dominant in PC software.

While Microsoft had pledged to give people a screen offering a range of browsers, one software upgrade meant users were not given a choice, the commission said. Microsoft had blamed it on a technical error.

“This decision will make companies think twice before breaking obligations,” Almunia said yesterday. Internet Explorer had a 55 per cent share of the European browser market when the commission investigated it in 2009. It now has less than 24 per cent, behind both Google’s Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox, according to research from StatCounter.

“We take full responsibility for the technical error that caused this problem and have apologised for it,” Microsoft said.