Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), a popular play among equity hedge funds we track, has been under scrutiny in the European Union for the better part of a decade over various antitrust allegations, violations and investigations. Many of the investigations have surrounded Microsoft’s proprietary browser, Internet Explorer. The company has already been on the hook for various fines in the last decade, but it is facing a single very serious fine because of a second major violation involving the same topic – especially since the EU claimed that Redmond has broken a promise.
In October of last year, the European Commission made the charge that Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) reneged on a promise that it would give Windows users a choice of web browsers in the previous version of the Windows operating system – the one that came before the current Windows 8 OS. The promise was alleged to have been made in 2009 in an effort to avoid a penalty and sanctions. This is now considered the second time that Microsoft has violated an EU order, and that, according to the commission, puts the company in the crosshairs of a fine. That fine could be as much as 10 percent of the company’s global revenue (not profits).
Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has already been docked about $2.1 billion in fines for past violations like failing to provide data to competitors for reasonable prices, requiring developers to create software that works with its own products, and for exclusively tying its media player to its own operating system.
When it comes to its Internet Explorer browser, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has seen its market share in Europe drop significantly since 2008. Currently, IE owns about 24 percent of the European market, which is half of its market share in 2008 – putting Internet Explorer third in the market behind Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) Chrome (35 percent) and Mozilla Firefox (29 percent).
What do you think about Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and how it handles its browser? Do you think this is an antitrust issue when it comes to its browser? Let us know your thoughts about this case in the comments section below.
DISCLOSURE: I own no positions in any stock mentioned.
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