The European Commission fined Microsoft the equivalent of $732 million Wednesday for failing to live up to an agreement to provide consumers a choice of Internet browsers, news sources report.
The fine is the first time EU regulators have punished a company for neglecting to comply with the terms of an antitrust settlement, according to the New York Times. It could signal their determination to enforce deals in other cases, including one being discussed with Google.
Microsoft had agreed in a 2009 settlement to pay 860 million Euros and promise to give Windows users an option in choosing their browser rather than having the company's Internet Explorer automatically installed, according to an Associated Press article appearing in the Star Tribune.
An EU investigation found that Microsoft had failed to honor the agreement in software issued between May 2011 and July 2012, effecting 15 million users, Reuters reports.
The commission's top regulator, Joaquin Almunia, stressed the importance of negotiated settlements in enforcing laws that protect competition, the New York Times reports.
This new fine tops a long and bitter relationship between Microsoft and the EU's powerful antitrust authority, which has now issued fines totaling 2.16 billion Euros against the U.S. computer giant, Reuters reports.
Microsoft has taken full responsibility for the error that caused the problem, the company said in a statement. Although it has appealed many past rulings against it, Microsoft might be reluctant to do so this time in order to focus on its rivalry with Google. Microsoft has complained to Almunia about the internet company's business practices, the New York Times reports.