Many PC users know the pain of using Internet Explorer. Although I always use Chrome on my own computers, I will inevitably stumble across a friend’s computer or a public PC with Internet Explorer installed. And when that happens, I always sigh and think of how much longer the most basic tasks will take.
Fortunately for those who dislike Internet Explorer as much as I do, the European Union has delivered sweet justice to Microsoft. Just how much is ‘sweet justice’ worth? Approximately $731 million USD.
That’s right: Microsoft now owes approximately $1 billion to the EU because it didn’t give 15 million European Windows users a choice of browsers. That seems a bit ridiculous, no? That’s about $50 per user.
The lack of browser choice was found on all Windows 7 PCs that came pre-installed with Service Pack 1. Although Microsoft repeatedly claimed that it was a technical error on their part, the tyrannical EU did not care.
Because of the EU ruling, Microsoft will now have a ‘browser ballot’ page pop up when users start up their Windows PC for the first time. A picture of that ballot page is seen below, and the order of the browsers on that page is completely random:
Why not Apple?
Apple makes it more difficult than Microsoft to change default browsers on OS X and iOS. Yet why hasn’t that company faced massive EU sanctions? Apple also pushes users into using its own software like iTunes, iMovie, and other programs.
Apple might face huge fines from the EU in the near future. After all, they’re the only major tech hardware company that has refused to adopt the EU’s standardized micro-USB format for electronics. Instead, the company continues using the proprietary Apple hardware plugin and found a loophole in EU regulations that allows for the use of a micro-USB adapter, which Apple then charges about $30 for.
“Could have been worse”
Apparently, the EU was ready to dole out a harsher fine to Microsoft, but eased back a bit because Microsoft was fully cooperating with the investigation and provided all of the information that was requested.
No matter how you feel about Microsoft, this penalty seems like a pretty harsh fine for something so small. But if it discourages software companies from limiting choice in the future, then it will ultimately be a good thing for PC users.