Bloomberg News reports today that European regulators are preparing a complaint against the company, formally known as a statement of objections, as a possible prelude to additional antitrust fines. EU regulators can impose fines of up to 10 percent of annual revenue, or more than $7 billion based on Microsoft’s fiscal 2012 results.
Under a 2009 deal with European regulators, Microsoft agreed to provide Windows users in Europe a choice of browsers other than Internet Explorer through a ballot-style “choice screen,” giving them a chance to default to Firefox, Safari Chrome, Opera or another browser.
Microsoft acknowledged in July that it had “fallen short of our responsibility.” The company said a technical error caused the browser ballot to be excluded from PCs running Windows 7 Service Pack 1, and it hadn’t been aware of the omission when it told the commission in December that it was complying with the settlement.
The company said at the time that it had distributed an update to reinstate the browser ballot, retained outside counsel to investigate the situation, and offered to extend the length of the agreement with the commission for 15 months beyond the original plan.