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EU let Microsoft police itself on browser ballot promises

Gregg Keizer | March 7, 2013
Legal critic wonders why regulators put "a three-time offender" on the honor system.

According to Microsoft, the browser ballot was left out of Windows 7 SP1 when an engineering team forgot to update code that distributed the choice screen.

Microsoft did not report the oversight to the Commission: As late as December 2011, months after the ballot stopped being shown, Microsoft reported that everything was fine. Instead, an unnamed complainant alerted the EU. Almunia has declined to identify the complaint's origin, but one possible suspect is Mozilla, which has been the most vocal of all of Microsoft's browser rivals about its practices.

Lande thought the explanation incredulous. "You can't say it's accidental for 15 months," he argued today. "Microsoft says it was a technical glitch, okay, one month, I understand, you left it out of a batch. But not for 15 months. That doesn't look like an accident to me."

It's unlikely that Microsoft will appeal the fine, what with its public apologies and admission of guilt. Today, however, the company declined to comment on its plans.


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