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Google and Opera reportedly tipped off EC about Microsoft

No love lost among rivals
Thu Mar 07 2013, 17:23
Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer

WEB BROWSER RIVALS Google and Opera reported Microsoft's web browser choice violation to the European Commission, according to the Financial Times.

Yesterday Microsoft got hit with a €561m fine from the European Commission (EC) after the firm failed to keep its promise of offering Windows users a choice of web browsers. According to the Financial Times, the EC was tipped off about the violation by web browser rivals Google and Opera.

Microsoft's web browser choice option was part of a deal it made with the EC to avoid a multi-billion dollar fine back in 2009, however for 14 months from May 2011 Windows 7 users did not see the option. Microsoft blamed this on a technical error, but its excuse wasn't enough to avoid a steep fine and the honour of becoming the first company to fail to comply with an EC antitrust agreement.

However the EC took 14 months to begin investigating Microsoft for the violation, which the FT says was spurred by complaints from Google and Opera. Both Google and Opera develop rival web browsers, and in the case of Google there is a wider rivalry in web search and advertising, cloud services and operating systems software.

The EC said Microsoft did cooroperate with its investigation and that was reflected in the fine, which could have been much higher. Nevertheless, if the FT's report is accurate, both Google and Opera must have gained satisfaction at seeing Microsoft hit with a large fine.

We've asked Google and Opera to comment on the report, but we have not yet heard back from either company. We will update this article when we do. µ


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