Based on comments EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia made to reporters, it looks likely that Microsoft could soon face action from the European regulatory body. The EU had been investigating Microsoft’s failure to offer a browser choice screen in Windows 7 service pack 1.
Reuters reported that Almunia said, “The next step is to open a formal proceeding into the company’s breach of an agreement. We are working on this.” He added, “It should not be a long investigation because the company itself explicitly recognized its breach of the agreement.”
GigaOm’s David Meyer recounted the background to the story: “To briefly recap, Microsoft had agreed to implement a browser choice screen for those firing up fresh copies of Windows, so that it wasn’t breaking antitrust law by steering users towards Internet Explorer. It did this for a while, but then it turned out that Windows 7 Service Pack 1 wasn’t serving up the screen in question. In July the European Commission said it was investigating, and Microsoft quickly confessed and apologized.”
All Things D’s John Paczkowski pointed out that Microsoft “has already been fined about $1.28 billion by the EU. If things really go south for it here, this misstep could see it slapped with fines equivalent to 10 percent of its fiscal 2012 revenue. That’s about $7.4 billion.”
But Microsoft isn’t the only company in the EU’s sights. SlashGear’s Chris Davies wrote, “Almunia also had some warning words for Google, which also faces the possibility of investigation by the EU. ‘If remedies offered by Google can eliminate our concerns, we will succeed in reaching an agreement’ the commissioner said, referring to complaints by Microsoft and others regarding Google’s attitudes to competition. ‘Otherwise,’ he warned, ‘the legal road is a long one.'”