- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The European Union has fined Microsoft Corp. $731 million for breaking its promise to give buyers a choice of Web browser.

EU officials said Microsoft made the commitment in 2009, Reuters reports. Microsoft’s browser is Internet Explorer. An EU investigation found that the company failed to keep its end of the bargain for software that it sold between March 2011 and July 2012 — affecting an estimated 15 million users, Reuters said.

“Legally binding commitments reached in antitrust decisions play a very important role in our enforcement policy,” said Joaquin Almunia, the EU’s competition commissioner, in the Reuters report. “A failure to comply is a very serious infringement that must be sanctioned accordingly.”

This is the first time the European Commission has exercised its authority to fine a company for noncompliance, Reuters said.

EU officials hope the fine — which under existing policy could have hit $7.9 billion, or 10 percent of Microsoft’s global turnover — serves as a warning to other companies facing antitrust disputes with the European Commission.

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