Microsoft landed with £486m EU fine in browser-choice row

The European Commission found the software giant lax in offering PC owners a choice of browsers, and has demanded a hefty wodge of wonga.

Microsoft has been landed with a staggering €561m (roughly £486m) fine, after European regulators found the software giant hadn't offered PC owners enough of a choice when it came to their browser.

The fine was handed down by the European Commission, as punishment for neglecting an anti-monopoly settlement from 2009, the New York Times reports. In that settlement the company behind Clippy vowed to offer Windows users a choice of which browser they wanted to use, instead of simply defaulting to its own Internet Explorer.

The result was 2010's browser ballot, which you may have spied yourself if you've started up a new Windows PC in the last couple of years. The ballot offered rival operating systems such as Firefox, Google Chrome and Apple's Safari browser.

The order in which rival browsers would appear on the ballot was a subject of heated debate , but eventually Microsoft plumped for  the five most popular Web browsers appearing in random order.

Good stuff, but Microsoft seemingly dropped the ball, with a version of Windows 7 (SP1) not offering users the choice. The company reportedly says it has updated both Windows 7 and Windows 8 to include the ballot, but that hasn't stopped anti-monopoly officials sending the firm a monstrous bill.

Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser remains popular, though critics say a huge part of that success is because it's been the default software on Windows PCs for a long time.

Which browser is your favourite? Let me know in the comments or on our Facebook wall.

About the author

Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.


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