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Mischievous Microsoft to feel wrath of EU

Two stories caught my eye regarding the EU enforcement of various actions against Microsoft. The first was a Reuters piece about how Microsoft is under investigation for not providing browser options on Windows 8 RT OS for its upcoming tablets. This was required some years back when antitrust actions within the EU were imposed on the company.

I didn't think much of this because I personally do not see this tablet as being important. I did note that Microsoft also promised to release all the APIs needed for competitive browser involvement and failed to do that, too.

The second piece ran on Wall Street Cheat Sheet and reports that Microsoft failed to follow orders in regards to browser options for Windows 7. The EU is not happy about this at all.

The kicker is Microsoft's apology. It pulled the "Oh, my, how did we miss this" bullcrap excuse. This is one of the most common things you find in legal situations in Silicon Valley. Companies are told to do one thing and they proceed to do another—sending in the wrong diagrams, sending in what was sent in before, or employing all sorts of crazy stalling tactics. Then, they apologise profusely for their grievous error. American courts are fairly lenient about this behaviour if the lawyers are sincere enough.

To summarise, Microsoft was supposed to provide browser choices from February 2011 to the present for users of Windows 7. It never did anything of the sort. This was supposed to continue until 2014. In the process, Microsoft said it did.

Now the humour begins. This snippet comes from PCMag's report:

"We take compliance with our decisions very seriously. And I trusted the company's reports were accurate. But it seems that was not the case, so we have immediately taken action," Joaquín Almunia, vice president of the Commission in charge of competition policy, said in a statement. "If following our investigation, the infringement is confirmed, Microsoft should expect sanctions."

So apparently, the EU took Microsoft for its word when Microsoft said, "Yup, it's fixed. We did it." Somehow nobody in the EU noticed that his or her own office or home machine failed to reflect the changes. Microsoft did no such thing. Furthermore, the entire EU also failed to observe the lack of this magical screen. Gee, it must not have been that important if it took over a year to notice that Microsoft did nothing. Are you kidding me?

It gets funnier as Microsoft apologises and blames the issue on a technical problem. Har.

"Due to a technical error, we missed delivering the BCS (browser choice screen) software to PCs that came with the service pack 1 update to Windows 7," it said. "While we have taken immediate steps to remedy this problem, we deeply regret that this error occurred and we apologise for it."

Microsoft then said it retained outside counsel to figure out how the "technical error" happened. Am I reading this correctly? Is Microsoft saying that it is so incompetent that it cannot conduct this investigation with the 90,000 people currently employed by the company? WOW. That's bad. Microsoft, while having fun giving the EU regulators the run-around, is facing trouble. The EU could fine the company up to ten per cent of sales if Microsoft keeps this up, which it will.

Fun times ahead.