updated 10:07 pm EST, Thu March 7, 2013
Competitors' revelation cost Microsoft $730 million dollars
On the heels of The European Commission's 561 million euros ($730 million) fine levied against Microsoft, documents have emerged that show that Google and Opera are responsible for informing the commission that the browser choice screen in Windows had been excised. The Commission claims that around 15 million Windows users in the EU failed to see the mandated web browser ballot screen, something which Microsoft blamed on a technical problem.
Commission Vice President in Charge of Competition Policy Joaquin Almunia spoke about the legally binding commitments that Microsoft agreed to after its investigation, saying that a failure to comply "is a very serious infringement that must be sanctioned accordingly." It is also noted that this is the first instance where the Commission has fined a company for non-compliance of its decision, and that it took into account Microsoft's cooperation during the investigation when working out the exact value of the fine.
Microsoft was responsible for self-policing its compliance with the order. Almunia said that he has asked his staff to "be extremely careful about how we design the monitoring and compliance" when structuring antitrust agreements in the future. Google is currently in the endgame of a settlement with the European Commission in regards to anticompetitive practices in returning browser search results.
In a statement after the fine was announced, Opera claimed to be “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." Microsoft has said it will not appeal the fine.