According to Reuters, the European Commission is preparing to fine Microsoft for failing to comply with its 2009 promise to provide European consumers with a mechanism for selecting a browser rather than simply imposing Internet Explorer on them.
The Commission has previously fined Microsoft some €1.6 billion over various anti-competitive issues, and the browser choice promise was part of a settlement of an anti-trust action. Accordingly, the new fine could be substantial - theoretically close to US$9 billion (€6.9 billion, or $8.8 billion), as the maximum is set as a percentage of an offending company's global revenue. It is unlikely to be that big, but there are suggestions that Microsoft's track record means the Commission may hit the software vendor hard.
An announcement is expected this month.
Microsoft has stated that the omission of the browser choice screen in Windows 7 SP1 was a technical error that it corrected as soon as it became aware of the issue. The Commission claims the browser choice screen was not presented to European users between February 2011 and July 2012.
According to Ireland based web analytics company StatCounter, Internet Explorer's web share in Europe is currently 23.6%, behind Chrome (35.0%) and Firefox (28.7%). In 2009, Internet Explorer was the leading browser in Europe, though its share slid from just over 50% in January to less than 45% in December. At that time Firefox was the main challenger, with a share of around 40%.