Microsoft is a one of the most successful software companies in the world and a leader in the market of operating systems. However its status does not keep it safe from the watchful eye of the European Union. Just recently the company was fined $732 million dollars for breaking a promise made to its consumers. While the Washington based company had other altercations in the past with the EU, this recent event was the first one of this sort. Never before has a company failed to accomplished a self-imposed agreement.
Microsoft has had other dissonances with the EU for linking its media player to the operating system. However the resolution of these problems did not mean that the company had learned its lesson. In 2009 Opera, a Microsoft competitor notified the European Commission of violations in the software giant policies. The problem was that Microsoft was now linking its operating system with the internet browser.
As a result Microsoft promised to give its customers the possibility of choosing between their product and the products of the competition. While for some time they kept their promise after a while the choice mysteriously disappeared. While it took the UE officials over a year to figure that out, eventually Microsoft had to take responsibility for such an error. Rumors have it that it was again the competition that tipped of the Union of the situation.
While at first glance the fine seems quite fitting to punish such a mistake, the $732 million only represent one percent of the company’s annual revenue. The reason for the rather small fine is the fact that Microsoft owned up to its mistake and cooperated with the European Union officials.
As dignifying as it is, this attitude could mean that the software giant has a backup plan. After all the choices they initially gave the users led to a 20 percent drop in their browser sales. Furthermore it is rather inexplicable the fact that a software company could overlook such a big error in their system.
The rules of fair competition are created for the consumers’ benefit. They ensure that customers have multiple choices when buying a product or a service and furthermore the prices are always controlled. The fact that such an important company broke those rules and it took so long for anyone to notice makes one wonder whether these rules truly apply to everybody.