EU slams Microsoft with enormous $731 million fine

The European Union antitrust watchdog has taken a sizeable chunk out of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s bottom line today.

The EU is furious that Ballmer signed off on a version of Windows that “accidently, it was broken when we got there” failed to give users a choice of rival internet browsers. This promise was made after Vole was walloped for a fine which eclipsed the sun and resulted in the company being closely monitored for several years.

EU antitrust chief Joaquin Almunia has used the $731 million fine to set an example. It is the first time that a company has been stupid enough to break a promise made to end an antitrust probe. 

According to Reutersthe announcement was supposed to be made at 6.30 this morning, but appears to have been delayed. We are not sure if Vole has gone for a last minute appeal, or Almunia was late out of bed

Microsoft blamed a technical error for the problem. It said a dog came in and ate its code. It has since shut the internal doors to prevent a dog ever getting in and doing that ever again.

It should know better. The European Commission has already fined Microsoft $2.1 billion to date for not providing data at fair prices to rivals and for tying its media player to its operating system.

Microsoft’s board slashed Steve Ballmer’s bonuses last year, partly because of the Windows division’s failure to provide a browser choice screen as required by the European Commission.