Software’s supreme dalek, Microsoft’s board faces a lawsuit over the way it handled an error with its Internet Exploder which cost it a $731 million fine by European antitrust regulators.
Shareholder Kim Barovic thinks that the only way for Vole’s board to pay for the cock-up was to be fined further by shareholders.
She has called into court Bill Gates and former Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer, and said they failed to manage the company properly and that the board’s investigation was insufficient into how the miscue occurred.
In March last year, the European Union levied its largest ever antitrust fine against Microsoft for breaking a legally binding commitment made in 2009 to ensure that consumers in Europe had a choice of how they access the internet, rather than defaulting to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser.
But there was a software glitch on the Windows 7 which stopped a “ballot” screen from appearing.
An EU investigation found that updated software issued between May 2011 and July 2012 meant that 15 million users were not given a choice. It was the first time the European Commission, the EU’s antitrust authority, handed down a fine to a company for failing to meet its obligations.
Barovic says she asked Microsoft’s board to investigate how that mistake occurred and to take action against any directors or executives that had not performed their duties.
However, Vole replied that it found no evidence of a breach of fiduciary duty by any current or former executives or directors. It apparently saw no need to fire anyone over the mistake.
Well, not everyone went unpunished because of the fiasco. Ballmer, who was CEO at the time, and Steven Sinofsky, then the head of the Windows unit, both had their bonuses cut in 2012 because of the mistake. Steve Ballmer is 58.