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back to article Europe tickles Microsoft with €561m fine for browser choice gaffe

Microsoft has been fined €561m ($731m, £484m) by the European Commission for breaking an agreement to offer Windows users alternative web browsers to Internet Explorer. A fresh investigation was launched against Microsoft by Brussels' competition officials in mid-2012 following complaints that the company was still using its …

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Meh

Fine, but......

.... where does the money actually go ?

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Meh

Re: Fine, but......

Fine, but......

.... where does the money actually go ?

Goes into paying the expense accounts of all the Eurocrats.

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Re: Fine, but......

No one knows where the EU moeny goes. The EU accounts have only been given a clean bill of health by the EU's auditors once in the last 15 years.

If the EU was a business, it would be struck off.

http://www.accountingweb.co.uk/article/eu-budget-irregularities-found-eca/533658

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Re: Fine, but......

> .... where does the money actually go ?

Same place as the rest of the EU budget goes: jollies for eurocrats, and subsidies for French farmers and pointless causes.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fine, but......

Try looking up what happens to the budget and what projects it is used for rather than relying on the Daily Mail.

You don't have to like the EU if you don't want to but at least base your dislike on some facts.

Not the best article but here's a start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budget_of_the_European_Union

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Re: Fine, but......

Quite a bit of research around here gets funded by Europe.

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Mushroom

Re: Fine, but......

The sleeping legal teams of whatever side.

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Re: Fine, but......

Where does the money from fines normally go?

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Flame

Re: Fine, but......

It is a nice myth that you have there. EU accounts are more healthy then UK accounts and many other governments in Europe this days.

Do not believe what UK news papers tell you about EU. Since they love to make up negative things about it.

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Re: Fine, but......

More importantly, where does it come from.

Hint: check your windows license costs in 12 months time and let me know if you are ahead.

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No choice popup on Apple, Google or Linux devices devices

How to apple get away with their restrictive practices? Every time I go near a Google page, it thrusts Chrome at me as to Adobe installs.

Do folks think this was a genuine MS cock up or they just plain forgot this stupid ruling.

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Re: No choice popup on Apple, Google or Linux devices devices

I'm pretty sure my Linux Distro [Ubuntu] has more than one web browser installed. I'd need to check as I only really Firefox, but I'm sure Epiphany is in there too.

And so many more in the repository...... Does that count ?

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Re: No choice popup on Apple, Google or Linux devices devices

"No choice popup on Apple, Google or Linux devices devices "

Well every Linux install ( I use OpenSUSE) gives me a two browsers immediately available (FF & Konqueror) and another 5or 6 others available in the distro. IF Microsoft deigned to write IE for Linux then I assume that would be available too.

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Re: No choice popup on Apple, Google or Linux devices devices

The original poster said Apple and Google, no-one suggested Linux didn't have a plethora of browsers.

But you have to wonder how Apple get away with it on iPhone. Presumably If MS had banned all the other browsers on windows they'd have been ok.....

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Re: No choice popup on Apple, Google or Linux devices devices

"No choice popup on Apple, Google or Linux devices devices"

Microsoft were targeted on this as an incumbent monopolist, and one already convicted of abuse of the powers such a position grants. I would expect the EU or some of it's member states to react more or less the same to others, such as is beginning to happen with Google.

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FAIL

Re: No choice popup on Apple, Google or Linux devices devices

I'm sure this has been explained before, but some people still (wilfully?) misconstrue this.

MS have a monopoly on operating systems for PCs.

MS abused this monopoly to ensure their browser became dominant on PCs.

MS and the EU negotiated a settlement. They were allowed to keep their monopolistic position in PC operating systems, in exchange for providing a browser choice screen.

MS accidentally or deliberately breached their agreement, and reverted to abusing their monopoly for 18 months.

Neither Apple nor Google have a monopoly on operating systems for phones.

Since there is no monopoly, you have a choice of what browser and OS combo you desire.

The original fine was for abusing a monopoly. This fine is for not following to their agreement.

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Re: No choice popup on Apple, Google or Linux devices devices

"The original poster said Apple and Google, no-one suggested Linux didn't have a plethora of browsers."

Are you sure ?

because the OP's title was "No choice popup on Apple, Google or Linux devices devices "

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@Tim Parker: Re: No choice popup on Apple, Google or Linux devices devices

"Microsoft were targeted on this as an incumbent monopolist, and one already convicted of abuse of the powers such a position grants."

Not quite. There are no laws against being a monopoly, but there are laws against abusing that dominance. And of course, having that kind of market dominance, whether as a monopoly or not, subjects one to special scrutiny and legal norms to which other entities are not subject.

Furthermore, Microsoft was not "targeted on this as an 'incumbent' monopolist", they were held responsible for violating a legal agreement; and having to adhere to such agreements is the duty of anyone agreeing to abide by them, irrespective of the reasons why they agreed. "Incumbent monopolists" are not the only entities required to abide by legally-binding agreements.

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@Tom 38 Re: No choice popup on Apple, Google or Linux devices devices

"MS and the EU negotiated a settlement. They were allowed to keep their monopolistic position in PC operating systems, in exchange for providing a browser choice screen."

And if the EU decided to forbid Microsoft from having a monopoly, how exactly would they have gone about enforcing that? Would they have forbidden Microsoft from selling Window in the EU? Would they have forbidden computer users in the EU from using Windows? No, this statement of yours seems to be incorrect. I believe - although I could be mistaken - that the consequences of not providing a browser choice and thereby continuing to abuse their market position were simply continued fines and not some sort of revocation of their right to have a monopoly.

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Re: @Tom 38 No choice popup on Apple, Google or Linux devices devices

Yes, continued fines. The end result of that is either bankruptcy, MS abandoning the EU as a market, settlement, or breakup of the company. All of those options lead to the end of their abuse of monopoly.

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@ Turtle - Re: @Tom 38 No choice popup on Apple etc

Wrote :- "And if the EU decided to forbid Microsoft from having a monopoly, how exactly would they have gone about enforcing that?"

A hypothetical scenario, but forcing MS to provide a sure and easy refund route if the user did not wish to use the pre-loaded copy of Windows would be a start. A freeze on TV advertising would be another way.

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Re: @Tim Parker: No choice popup on Apple, Google or Linux devices devices

"Microsoft were targeted on this as an incumbent monopolist, and one already convicted of abuse of the powers such a position grants."

Not quite. There are no laws against being a monopoly, but there are laws against abusing that dominance. And of course, having that kind of market dominance, whether as a monopoly or not, subjects one to special scrutiny and legal norms to which other entities are not subject.

Yes - that would appear to be exactly what I said.

Furthermore, Microsoft was not "targeted on this as an 'incumbent' monopolist", they were held responsible for violating a legal agreement; and having to adhere to such agreements is the duty of anyone agreeing to abide by them, irrespective of the reasons why they agreed.

The targeting I was referring to was the original complaint - not the breach of agreement - perhaps I was unclear on that. As part of the original complaint, the issue of Microsoft having a dominant position in the marketplace was most certainly germane.

"Incumbent monopolists" are not the only entities required to abide by legally-binding agreements.

Of course not - I never said otherwise.

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Facepalm

Re: @ Tom 38 No choice popup on Apple, Google or Linux devices devices

"Neither Apple nor Google have a monopoly on operating systems for phones."

I own both devices and on first startup, they both have a default, embedded browser (Safari and either the old "Browser" or more recently, Chrome). Yes you can get other's through their respective app stores but at no point are you informed that there is a choice.

Is that not the exact same thing Microsoft were fined for initially and had to rectify?

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Devil

Re: No choice popup on Apple, Google or Linux devices devices

The only reason why Microsoft had a so called "monopoly " is that they made a pretty damn decent operating system that almost everyone uses, one, I might add is the primary reason why most of you have jobs and can do much of the work you enjoy.

Witness again the power of the free market over the power of punitive biased judgements. MS STILL have the majority share of operating systems regardless of the EU.

How many of you really make your living interacting with browser manufacturers?

The comments by other posters regarding Apple and Google having a "monopoly" are more valid than you give credit for.

In fact they have exactly the same "monopoly" that MS has, great products are rewarded with many users.

What part of that can you not grasp?

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Vic
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Re: @ Tom 38 No choice popup on Apple, Google or Linux devices devices

> Is that not the exact same thing Microsoft were fined for initially

No, it isn't.

Vic.

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WTF?

What a joke!

Fining MS for not including a link to a competitor's FREE product. 99% of users know alternative browsers are available. Shit like this makes my blood boil and I genuinely (for once) feel sorry for MS

More useless legislation from the EU and .... where does the fine go?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What a joke!

You feel sorry for them? Please!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What a joke!

Too right, we should let Google get much bigger before we start to get frightened. They only track 98% of web use at the moment....

Whereas the Mighty MS with their highly successful windows 8 platform really need taking down a peg or two.

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Re: What a joke!

There's no need to feel sorry or not sorry for Microsoft or the EU. Microsoft is a company making billions of $ in profits, selling the same stuff (albeit updated) to people again and again. They probably have loads of contracts with the EU. As for the EU, it's full of burocrats. How many are there? How much does each of them earn, tax free? How much do they claim as expenses? I don't know.

The eurocrats, who are skimming off masses of money from taxpayers in the EU, want a piece of the Microsoft action. They introduce a requirement for Microsoft to put up an annoying and time-wasting screen on its OS. Nobody in their right mind cares about this screen, it's more an inconvenience than anything else. Microsoft does or doesn't comply. Result: massive fine / kick-back. Everybody profits, Microsoft keeps its contracts, part of your cash ends up in the eurocrats' bank account but that's always happening and this way, you don't feel the pain.

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Re: What a joke!

I can only assume your American and don't understand how the EU works. You can easily find out the salary levels if you want to.

This is nothing to do with EU civil servants this is to do with an abusive company who chose to sign an agreement in order to avoid a fine..... and then decided not to keep to the agreement. The fine they've now got seems entirely fair to me.

I don't think you can really compare a fine to a kick back as the fine doesn't go into the hands of those who issued it.

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Repeat offender

I don't have one ounce of sympathy for MSFT as I'm old enough to remember the worst abuses of their monopoly power.

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Re: What a joke!

"99% of users know alternative browsers are available."

Since at least 50% of users don't even know what a browser is ("What browser are you using?" "Windows") I'd be surprised if somehow 99% knew there were alternatives.

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Re: What a joke!

Dear Matt 21,

You are far too perceptive, you sussed me out in no time. I'm an American indeed. Or at least an aspiring American, an American in spirit, you might say. If someone were to offer me a green card, I would doubtless take it. Who knows, it could be fun.

I am also sorry to have intimated that the EU's bureaucrats take kick-backs and to have lied about not knowing how much they earn.

Regards

A. Cowshed

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Re: What a joke!

Well I managed to write "your" instead of "you're", so none of us are perfect :-)

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Re: What a joke!

Microsoft embeds IE in their operating system, which is part of the problem of abusing their dominance in the desktop PC market.

Knowing about other browsers doesn't change the fact one cannot get rid of IE in a Windows OS. You will carry that extra code and storage space no matter what you decide for a browser choice. And any chance it gets, IE pops up for use, and seeking preferential, default, treatment.

We have one computer left in our household with Windows. It has three browsers, one for me (chromium) one for my wife (firefox) and that "background" snake (IE).

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Re: What a joke!

"Technical mistake"... Right They're damned right, they take full responsibility for it! I wonder which exec/s signed off on telling the EU screw off. This just shows that MS are not "eating their own dog food", considering all the cloud, VM, CRM, and nightly build checkin tools they have.

With all the frickin' databases and servers and control systems they have over nightly builds, and CRM tools at their disposal, they are surely being disingenous at the least, because it was SOOOO simple for them if they wanted to to roll such a thing across all their divisions. I am pretty sure they must be offering such strategies to their JIT and fortune 500 clients, especially the tier in the Fortune 20/100/whatever.

All they needed to do was to build into their executive daily dashboard was "Items that if overlooked would cost us over $100m dollars spread across a period of X months".

If a software or legal requirement is one of those triggers, then an event trigger would flag up the CEO, even if the division or department manager tries to suppress it.

It would be very easy for the EU to just say, "Look, MS is LYING. Just fire a 650 million pounds cruise missile INTO their bow."

It is just wanton disregard. With 20,000-40,000 employees and contractors, SOMEbody there must have though of what I am thinking, and proposed it. That means, somebody shot down the idea and said "Fuck the EU High Courts. We're an AMERICAN Company!"

So, then, the EU courts or ministers probably determined, "The fine SHOULD be levied at 10%, or the $7.4 BILLION. No reductions, no argument, no appeal. Just as Apple is losing what it asked for. These big companies need to LEARN!" But, they reduced it to even 10$ of THAT.

MS is lucky. They'll probably push a button and roll out the changes in the Patch Tuesday for next week and argue for mitigation and reduction of the fine down to $70 million, maybe even just $7million to spare the courts of expensisvely chasing the money over the next 5 years. (Or, the EU could just embargo ms, freeze their accounts, or summons and then arrest the cognizant exects....)

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Re: Repeat offender

I don't have one ounce of sympathy for MSFT as I'm old enough to remember the worst abuses of their monopoly power.

For me MS is like an abusive ex, the hate has gradually faded (with lots of time and booze).

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@ djstardust - Re: What a joke!

Wrote : - "Fining MS for not including a link to a competitor's FREE product. 99% of users know alternative browsers are available."

Nowhere near 99% know that - a high proportion think the "Internet" is integral to their machine. Even if they are aware, they are only aware like the owner of a brand new Audi (say) is aware that he could get a replacement souped-up cylinder head - but there is no way that the average Audi owner is going to opt for it.

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Stop

Re: What a joke!

Nonsense. Utter nonsense. 99% of PC users are aware of other browsers? I'm afraid not. In fact it's probably closer to 99% that couldn't tell you what a browser IS never mind which they use. As someone who supports "regular"end users both home users and business users most of them will respond with either "erm" or"google" when asked what browser they use, and even to get that answer you have to ask the question twice.

"what browser do you use"

"...."

"what do you use to get on the internet"

"oh, google."

If your experience differs i'd suggest the people of which you speak are certainly not your "average" PC user. if 99% of people knew of other broswers, what they are called, even what a "browser" is then there would have been no issue with MS/IE in the first instance.

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Angel

Ironically .....

I love the fact this whole webpage is emblazoned with ads for Office 365 :)

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Re: Ironically .....

Are there adverts ?

Adblock Plus really is very good......!!

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Happy

Re: Ironically .....

...Adblock Plus really is very good......!!

Thanks for the advert.

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Unhappy

Re: Ironically .....

I love the ads .... how would I know what to buy otherways?

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Happy

Re: Ironically .....

Whereas us noscript users still see ads, so the reg presumably makes some money, but they don't dance or take up massive areas of the screen (or run scripts)... Everybody's happy!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ironically .....

@piloti - So how are the Reg, funded by advertising, supposed to run if everyone uses adblock?

Or is news and web hosting magically free?

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Meh

Re: Ironically .....

I have Adblock on by default. It is not selective against one or another website.

Personally, I dislike adverts mainly because they get in the way of me reading what I choose to read. Like ad's at football grounds that are live on the telly, flashing away to distract from the actual football / rugby / racing et al.

It is about choice and if sites like El Reg [which I do enjoy] choose one business model or another, I will respond this way or that. It is the push and pull of life......

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Re: Ironically .....

"Or is news and web hosting magically free?"

They mostly seem to be funded by venture capitalists with more money than sense, and an endearing inability to learn from history. For as long as there's no shortage of such people, ad-funded web sites will always come and go.

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Re: Ironically .....

Are you suggesting that the blocked ads don't pay?

If ElReg decides to advertise MS, I won't allow the ads on my screen. BTW, noscript, ad-block Plus, flash-block -- they all come along pretty well.

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Holmes

AC (13:14 GMT) Re: Ironically .....

Wrote : -"So how are the Reg, funded by advertising, supposed to run if everyone uses adblock?"

1) Because there are always some people like you who do not. (Do you actually go out and buy the stuff too, just to make sure those marketing droids stay happy)

2) The advertisers will pay the Reg anyway because they haven't realised what a cynical and hard-baked lot we are.

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Vic
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Re: Ironically .....

> how are the Reg, funded by advertising, supposed to run if everyone uses adblock?

This is why I don't block ads on this site.

But that bloody Sim City ad is getting on my pecs today. It kept locking up my work machine & I had to kill the Flash process :-( I think I might be about to start blocking ads...

Vic.

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