* Microsoft is known for its obsession with rigorous testing.
* They had to pay around a billion for anticompetitive behaviour _and_ implement the "browser ballot". Failure to comply would cost them up to 10% of the annual turnover.
* There was a "glitch" that deactivated the ballot for 15 (!) months for a full service pack.
1) Pretend that no one would notice.
2) Do a risk to reward analysis, where they would gladly pay out 7 billion dollars if caught (over a few million extra IE installs).
3) Implement a fix within one day after notice, and offer to extend this ballot on their brand new OS for another 15 months.
The simpler explanation is that due to the nature of the ballot, their test Suite did not include the browser ballot in it, and was delegated to someone in the legal department that filed if away and forgot about it.
This ONLY affected 28 million PCs. That's a very small fraction of the user-base. And considering IE's market share, this bug would have only caused less than 1/2 of that number of non-installs of other-browsers... As afterwards, anyone could have just downloaded what they were looking for anyways.
Also note that for 15 months NO ONE (well, just a few people apparently) contacted MS or the EU Commission about not seeing the browser ballot. I guess the browser ballot is as important as you might think it is to the people of EU.
Also, I don't think that this was not reported for 15 months. The problem only became widely known after the EU actually decided for a formal investigation. I found no coverage about when the problem was reported.
The 28 million-number is rather irrelevant, as the news coverage states that all of windows 7 SP 1 was affected, so they failed at a major release level. It wasn't 2% of the release or something. This could even have been cought by manual testing.
I don't care how important the ballot is in the real world (for the record: I hate the ruling). But this is one of the biggest companies in the world failing to comply with a pretty clear rule that came out of the most expensive ruling ever dropped on them.
Where is the $7B figure from?
> This ONLY affected 28 million PCs.
That's over 3.7% of the European browser market (more, because I assumed each of the 739M people in Europe have a browser).
A few % in browser market share is something people care about very much.
> Also note that for 15 months NO ONE (well, just a few people apparently) contacted MS or the EU Commission about not seeing the browser ballot.
Why would the general public know this even existed or should exist? The only people I would expect to notice it are browser vendors and hardcore browser enthusiasts, a miniscule minority. But that doesn't mean the measure isn't important. It wasn't set in place so people would consciously notice it, it was set in place to have a specific effect.
Especially, when you compare being #1 vs #2. That's not to say it's intentional, but there is a reason negligence can be a crime. People do all sorts of stupid things by pushing the line and not just directly intending to do so.
Did they pay the original fine yet?
Yes, I think Microsoft would purposefully break the "browser ballot" in the hope that they could win back a significant share with their new browser focus before re-instigating it.
FWIW I found the whole browser-ballot thing ridiculous.
The fine is upheld, so I'd imagine so.
Shows they were fined in March 2004. That document is the confirmation, in June 2012, that Microsoft will be charged what is essential a late-payment fee based on a decision in 2008. They had 2 months to appeal.
I'd be amazed if they didn't appeal a penalty charge of Euro 890 Million.
I can't find a reference to MS having actually paid the fine, they have paid others in the past amounting to more than this amount; it's just part of their cost of doing business for them I presume.
Anyone got a citation, a line entry in some accounts, a message to shareholders or something that one can look at to confirm payment?
There are many shortcuts not working properly, e.g. http://connect.microsoft.com/VisualStudio/feedback/details/7... , windows with strange state management, the new temp document not working properly.
Well, they weren't gained, but they certainly weren't lost. I somehow doubt that people decided against downloading Firefox because it wasn't in the browser ballot.
Did you read the article?
>Daily downloads of Firefox fell by 63% to a low of 20,000 before the ballot was reinstated, Harvey Anderson, vice president of business affairs and general counsel at Mozilla, said in a post on his personal blog.
>After the fix, downloads jumped by 150% to 50,000 a day, he said - estimating that between six and nine million downloads were "lost" during the 18 months the browser ballot was missing.
A more cynical person might say this proves the silliness of the whole "browser ballot" concept.