Google and Opera reportedly behind Microsoft's browser ballot fine

The EU has released its ruling on Microsoft’s (accidental) absent ‘browser ballot’ and it will dip deep into Microsoft’s purse and grab a boatload of cash to the tune 732 million dollars. In fact, since 2004, Microsoft has been fined over 3 billion dollars by the EU, after this latest judgment.

An interesting post over at Financial Times is stating that Google and Opera may actually have been behind the fine, or at least, tipping off the EU about the absent browser ballot screen. Insider sources, are stating that Google and Opera informally pinged the EU to let them know that Microsoft was in violation of the browser ballot agreement.

While Google declined to comment on the story, Opera did say that they were happy to see that the EU is holding firm to their agreements and enforcing the ruling.

It would not be a surprise to see Google behind the tip to the EU, considering Microsoft has been going after nearly all of Google’s Android vendors with IP claims against the software. If Google did spot the issue, it was an easy and indirect way for them to get back at Microsoft by using the EU as a medium.

While we will likely never know if the tip was true, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see Google and Opera raise the flag as both companies have a lot to gain from the browser ballot screen. 

Source: Financial Times

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The entire issue is total nonsense. The initial directive from the EU did not make any sense as well. But then the EU are somewhat medieval in their thinking these days.

While I am no MS fan this has to be the dumbest fine ever. First if you know the slightest bit about computers you can find the browser you want. Second if you don't have the slightest clue about computers you have no business choosing another browser you know nothing about.

Ha! Comments on here are hysterical. People blaming Google but isn't Microsoft backing something against Google in Massachusetts right now? Oh yea it was a previous story on the front page that Microsoft lovers don't want to bring up on this thread. Interesting.

DarkNet said,
Ha! Comments on here are hysterical. People blaming Google but isn't Microsoft backing something against Google in Massachusetts right now? Oh yea it was a previous story on the front page that Microsoft lovers don't want to bring up on this thread. Interesting.

By supporting a privacy bill Google is against? That's more for the common interest of US citizens, then the browser ballot ever has been for EU citizens.
Yeah surely you hate MS for supporting the interest of people (even if its just media and goodwill)

Funny reading the comments here blaming Google. This is Microsoft's fault and they screwed up. EU would of found out sooner or later the MS screw up. And MS had this coming considering all the trash they have been throwing Google's way. Cant take the heat, stay the hell out of the kitchen.

And in case anyone thinks I am hating on Microsoft, I would say the same thing if they were in MS' shoes. Hell, I want MS to do well as if I need to, or switch to, another platform, It would be Microsoft and not Apple. But so far they can just sling mud and nothing else.

Apple and Google do the same thing. So really EU should back off. No matter how much marketshare a company has, if they don't treat each one equally, they shouldn't have a say at all... who are they to fine a company for bundling their own product with their own product but not other companies doing the same thing? How many times do you download/purchase software and it tricks you to install Chrome? They should be after those trolls instead.

j2006 said,
Apple and Google do the same thing. So really EU should back off. No matter how much marketshare a company has, if they don't treat each one equally, they shouldn't have a say at all... who are they to fine a company for bundling their own product with their own product but not other companies doing the same thing? How many times do you download/purchase software and it tricks you to install Chrome? They should be after those trolls instead.

So they should treat everyone equal regardless? Its like saying I dont do any work but should get paid the same amount as the guy who is busting his ass.

Fines, restrictions, punishments...fit the crime/situation.

airedwin said,
So how do I load another browser, or where is the browser ballot on Chrome OS?

Well, considering that the Chrome OS is a very very small percentage of the OS installed in the world, and the fact that you cannot install any other browser on Chrome makes this a non issue towards Google.

techbeck said,

Well, considering that the Chrome OS is a very very small percentage of the OS installed in the world, and the fact that you cannot install any other browser on Chrome makes this a non issue towards Google.

So what are you saying, MS shouldn't allow other to install their browsers on Windows then? If anything Google is doing the same thing to be honest, doesn't matter how much market share you have.

techbeck said,

Well, considering that the Chrome OS is a very very small percentage of the OS installed in the world, and the fact that you cannot install any other browser on Chrome makes this a non issue towards Google.

So having a limited market share makes it AOK? How ****ed up is that?

Chrome OS is just a browser dude. You Microsoft lovers make sure everyone knows that right? If Microsoft built a netbook that ran only in IE there wouldn't be any issue.

DarkNet said,
Chrome OS is just a browser dude. You Microsoft lovers make sure everyone knows that right? If Microsoft built a netbook that ran only in IE there wouldn't be any issue.

Windows RT is basically that. Wait which companies cried about Windows RT, a marketshare-less OS?
Oh yeah I remember, Google, Opera and Mozilla. And also its fanboys all over the world.

ahhell said,

So having a limited market share makes it AOK? How ****ed up is that?

considering the two computers running hte Chrome OS compared to millions running Windows, yea....it makes a big difference.

Shadowzz said,

Windows RT is basically that. Wait which companies cried about Windows RT, a marketshare-less OS?
Oh yeah I remember, Google, Opera and Mozilla. And also its fanboys all over the world.

Wait What? Your claim is Windows RT is just a browser? Umm yeah if that's what you want to believe go right ahead. But let us sane people keep this talk intelligent.

But thank you. I love fanboys with their "best" defense.

Windows breaks the EU contract which Google is a part of because their browser is in the ballot, which makes Google the evil one because they want the ballot to work? Come on! You can't be serious.

I really wish there would come a day when people would stop worshipping corporations. God doesn't exist and corporations aren't his stand ins.

Since when is enforcing the rules "evil"?

I thought I lived in the civilized world... In the civilized world we believe, or at least used to, that evil is the absence of law and order. I guess those days are long gone now.

Law and Order = Evil, Good = returning to some form of a State of Nature where he who has the biggest club wins. Twisted view of the world now by consumers.

Karanlos said,
Windows breaks the EU contract which Google is a part of because their browser is in the ballot, which makes Google the evil one because they want the ballot to work? Come on! You can't be serious.

We all know the reason, but this kind of corporate abuse is ridiculous. They could have just simply notified Microsoft of the error and then give them say 60-90 days to rectify the problem. Instead the EU simply saw an opportunity (in their financial crisis times) to get a quick buck for an oversight. The fine was over zealous and unreasonable especially in the light of how much competition in the browser market.

Drewidian said,

We all know the reason, but this kind of corporate abuse is ridiculous. They could have just simply notified Microsoft of the error and then give them say 60-90 days to rectify the problem. Instead the EU simply saw an opportunity (in their financial crisis times) to get a quick buck for an oversight. The fine was over zealous and unreasonable especially in the light of how much competition in the browser market.

Ah a typical brainless consumer. Microsoft isn't a mom and pop shop. They have a full in house legal department and staff dedicated to ensuring they meet their legal obligations. Microsoft, or any company their size, should NEVER get a free pass when they mess up.

If you give them a free pass they will exploit those free passes to make more money. To any business the size of Microsoft it isn't a matter of should you comply with any regulations. It is only a matter of return potential. If you will earn more revenue than the cost of non-compliance you don't comply.

This isn't you and me they aren't risking going to jail...

where are the google lovers now that are all of a sudden against patents,and always mock that if you cant compete,you sue. whats this then? if you cant compete, become a rat ? that's even worse and shows the true character of such companies. bunch of little girls.

vcfan said,
where are the google lovers now that are all of a sudden against patents,and always mock that if you cant compete,you sue. whats this then? if you cant compete, become a rat ? that's even worse and shows the true character of such companies. bunch of little girls.

For one, this is a rumor. Has not been 100 percent verified. For two, there is a big difference between sueing and making known something that would of eventually been found out anyway.

techbeck said,

For one, this is a rumor. Has not been 100 percent verified. For two, there is a big difference between sueing and making known something that would of eventually been found out anyway.


But it isn't the first time said companies pull these kind of stunts in the browser wars.

google just wants you to use there chrome browser and use google as the default search engine so they can get more data from people. Cant get data if there using bing, and opera, well there just crying cus no one uses it or wants to use it

This has been bull **** from the beginning. People who care about other browsers know about them.

Google has plenty of avenues to catch IE users who probably don't care.

Tom Chapman said,
People who care about other browsers know about them.

Yes, and they were not the target. The target is people who *don't* know they have a choice.

I don't understand why Microsoft is not fined for bundling Task Manager and Windows Explorer with Windows... They should be just as popular as IE, and in terms of market share, they should definitely be more dominating.

This is really unfair for developers who make software other than browsers for Windows.

I don't like the way EU is handling this. How about wordpad, notepad and the worst of all, PAINT!!!

It's disgusting to have these programs shoved down our throats. I demand EU to force MS to remove them ASAP and provide ballot screens. /S

hin123 said,
I don't understand why Microsoft is not fined for bundling Task Manager and Windows Explorer with Windows... They should be just as popular as IE, and in terms of market share, they should definitely be more dominating.

This is really unfair for developers who make software other than browsers for Windows.


The WWW is a common interest, your painted image, written documents, running programs etc. Aren't.

Because Microsoft actively abused their monopoly to hurt other browsers and unfairly give massive amounts of marketshare to IE. So MS is being punished by forcing them to rebalance the scales.

MS was not punished for bundling software. they were not banned from bundling software. They were punished for using the monopoly to get a monopoly in another market. And it's only that new market monopoly that needs to be reset.

Rosyna said,
Because Microsoft actively abused their monopoly to hurt other browsers and unfairly give massive amounts of marketshare to IE. So MS is being punished by forcing them to rebalance the scales.

MS was not punished for bundling software. they were not banned from bundling software. They were punished for using the monopoly to get a monopoly in another market. And it's only that new market monopoly that needs to be reset.


You do realize IE = Mosaic, and Mosaic basically WAS the entire graphical internet in its days.
IE has been dominant ever since it started. So that MS abused on position to 'gain' marketshare is wrong. They where already dominant on the web.
They where caught forcing OEMs not to supply Windows with 3rd party browsers (although plenty did, in Europe at least). But use the build in Trident engine that comes with Windows (See the AOL browser for example, or other IE 'shells')

Also Netscape and Opera where the only decent alternatives at the time. Both Netscape and Opera where NOT FREE. Netscape became free after many years, but was horribly slow. Although I still found it more comfortable to use.
Opera's free version had giant freaking ads.

Can't blame MS for having a massive market share with a simple clean and 'free' browser.

Shadowzz said,
You do realize IE = Mosaic, and Mosaic basically WAS the entire graphical internet in its days.
IE has been dominant ever since it started. So that MS abused on position to 'gain' marketshare is wrong. They where already dominant on the web.
They where caught forcing OEMs not to supply Windows with 3rd party browsers

I distinctly remember reading an article saying Netscape had 110% market share during the IE 3 days. (In either Federal Computer Week or ComputerWeekly?).

Your revisionist history is amusing.

Decision-makers at Microsoft worried that simply developing its own attractive
browser product, pricing it at zero, and promoting it vigorously would not divert enough browser usage from Navigator to neutralize it as a platform. They believed that a comparable browser product offered at no charge would still not be compelling enough to consumers to detract substantially from Navigator's existing share of browser usage. This belief was due, at least in part, to the fact that Navigator already enjoyed a very large installed base and had become nearly synonymous with the Web in the public's consciousness. If Microsoft was going to raise Internet Explorer's share of browser usage and lower Navigator's share, executives at Microsoft believed they needed to constrict Netscape's access to the distribution channels that led most efficiently to browser usage.

See http://www.justice.gov/atr/cases/f3800/v-f.pdf (for the DoJ trial)

Not surprised, Opera is just hurt because nobody wants to use their 'until fat lady sings **** of a browser'. Imagine, Opera has been around since the mid 90's yet can't gain any group, yet two modern browsers have come in existence since the mid 2000's Firefox and Chrome and have reaped impressed marketshare and IE is still holding on strong. Maybe Opera should change its need to Oprah, it would get some recognition then.

Hehe, just imagine if Google had to advertise their competitors on google.com, youtube.com and in Chrome alongside their advertisements for Chrome. ^^

I hate having to close that "Get Chrome" box every single time I go to google.com in IE/Firefox. No Google, I don't want your browser. Shut up.

I hope so... I love when companies are fighting each other, and the citizens claim the benefits... Like politicians! When they fight each other, we get the truth!

It's known that all these companies are using tricks in order to avoid taxes. Both, US and EU are losing money, while they go in the pockets of 5-10 investors.

What I don't understand is, why your childish fanboism blinds you as much? I mean, you become puppets, mouthpieces of those corps for... nothing. Actually, not for nothing... As citizens you're losing, likewise; when a corp evades taxes.

epple said,
Hehe, just imagine if Google had to advertise their competitors on google.com, youtube.com and in Chrome alongside their advertisements for Chrome. ^^

Microsoft advertises on YouTube. I see their Surface Tablet commercial on their from Microsoft's official YouTube account.

BajiRav said,
I hate having to close that "Get Chrome" box every single time I go to google.com in IE/Firefox. No Google, I don't want your browser. Shut up.

Does it really get in the way though. I typically don't go to Google.com anyway. I just search from Firefox's address bar or search bar. It goes through Google and I don't see a damn thing that way.

DarkNet said,

Microsoft advertises on YouTube. I see their Surface Tablet commercial on their from Microsoft's official YouTube account.


Does it really get in the way though. I typically don't go to Google.com anyway. I just search from Firefox's address bar or search bar. It goes through Google and I don't see a damn thing that way.


I also see IE ads on google.com if i'm searching for browsers.
Same for Chrome ads when im searching for browsers on bing.com.
In the advertisement game Google does little wrong.

I didn't mean in the regular ad slots where anyone can advertise. I meant on the respective start page since that's where I've seen the Chrome ads previously. Sorry for not being clear.

DarkNet said,

Microsoft advertises on YouTube. I see their Surface Tablet commercial on their from Microsoft's official YouTube account.

Does it really get in the way though. I typically don't go to Google.com anyway. I just search from Firefox's address bar or search bar. It goes through Google and I don't see a damn thing that way.


I am sure Microsoft is not getting free ads on Youtube whereas the Chrome ad on google.com is pretty much free.
It is annoying to be prompted every time. I occasionally go to google.com because my default search is bing

BajiRav said,

I am sure Microsoft is not getting free ads on Youtube whereas the Chrome ad on google.com is pretty much free.
It is annoying to be prompted every time. I occasionally go to google.com because my default search is bing

I was going to say MS does the same thing. But since their website redesigns... they don't seem to do it anymore. No 'GET IE' ads on FF or Chrome when I got o Microsoft.com, im sure they where there though Even while browsing with IE9/10.
Just 1 IE notion on the frontpage and it isn't straight in your face.
But I also haven't seen the "GET CHROME" bubble on google.com for a while in IE, seems tracking protection gets rid of that. When I go with FF it still shows

BajiRav said,

I am sure Microsoft is not getting free ads on Youtube whereas the Chrome ad on google.com is pretty much free.
It is annoying to be prompted every time. I occasionally go to google.com because my default search is bing

Which company get's "free" ads on any site? Chrome is built by Google. How many years did I see Get IE on Microsoft.com? I didn't complain. If I don't like it I wouldn't go to it. Same goes for you.

This....was not the EUs plan. It had the idea it would let MS go on for a long while, then claim fines retroactively. In being tattle tales, Google and Opera saved MS some money.


Yeah, I just pulled that out of my ass, but I can completely see the EU doing that.

Not tattling. They have a browser on Windows don't they. It is in Google's best interest. Tattling would be like Symantec tipping off the EU about it. Symantec has no interest but Google does.

DarkNet said,
Not tattling. They have a browser on Windows don't they. It is in Google's best interest. Tattling would be like Symantec tipping off the EU about it. Symantec has no interest but Google does.

Not tattling indeed, just the usual crying. It just saddens me to always see Opera and Google (often Mozilla and before Oracle, Sun) are the ones involved with these things.

Who cares? Microsoft were in violation - got slapped. Doesn't matter who tipped the EU off - the only real issue is why it took so long?

If anything, ain't normal those who got hurt by this to react? Of course. As EU citizens, we've to thank them, but I'd like by EU to wake up. Next time do it yourself, without the need of someone else to ping you.

testman said,
Who cares? Microsoft were in violation - got slapped. Doesn't matter who tipped the EU off - the only real issue is why it took so long?

Indeed MS slipped up. But Google and/or Opera should've been the bigger man and not be the ones that should go tip off the EU about it.
But then again, nothing new.

The issue is that Google and Apple do the same thing. Why should the EU interfere with Microsoft's products/services when they don't for ALL companies. If they did the same for Google and Apple then ok. But honestly, the EU should just back off already as they are not showing a fair advantage to anyone really and not really helping anyone.

Shadowzz said,

Indeed MS slipped up. But Google and/or Opera should've been the bigger man and not be the ones that should go tip off the EU about it.
But then again, nothing new.

The thing is, the timing doesn't make sense. Why haven't any reporters had the critical thinking skills to investigate this?

Microsoft claim to have fixed the problem one day after the EU notified it of the problem. Yet it was punished for the 15 months that elapsed from the start of the problem. What happened during these 15 months?

All links from the Browser Choice Screen carry a referrer field of http://www.browserchoice.eu. Thus, Opera and Google should immediately have noticed a drop-off in visits, because users only see the Browser Choice Screen the first time they try to launch IE. Visits from new computers would have fallen off right away -- not fifteen months later.

Did Opera and Google wait 15 months to complain? Or was it the EU that sat on the complaints for 15 months? Or is Microsoft lying?

Because if someone sat on it for 15 months, then it shows they would rather fine Microsoft than actually use the Browser Choice Screen to promote browser competition. They could've had Microsoft change the screen right away, rather than waiting 15 months and then fining them.

You guys make this out to be a question of every day moral standards. To a company, this is war! You don't extend your arm and say, "Hey bud, lemme save you millions of dollars so you can invest it in products and services that directly compete with us!"

I'm not saying that companies have to behave this way, as there's great things that can come out of coopetition and such, but it's annoying how often people portray this as some schoolyard activity. Be the bigger man? Please.

If any of us were in charge, I highly doubt we'd be so kind to other companies than the one we serve. Hell, check out the forums: half the time we're bitching about who's country is better.

TomJones said,

The thing is, the timing doesn't make sense. Why haven't any reporters had the critical thinking skills to investigate this?

Microsoft claim to have fixed the problem one day after the EU notified it of the problem. Yet it was punished for the 15 months that elapsed from the start of the problem. What happened during these 15 months?

All links from the Browser Choice Screen carry a referrer field of http://www.browserchoice.eu. Thus, Opera and Google should immediately have noticed a drop-off in visits, because users only see the Browser Choice Screen the first time they try to launch IE. Visits from new computers would have fallen off right away -- not fifteen months later.

Did Opera and Google wait 15 months to complain? Or was it the EU that sat on the complaints for 15 months? Or is Microsoft lying?

Because if someone sat on it for 15 months, then it shows they would rather fine Microsoft than actually use the Browser Choice Screen to promote browser competition. They could've had Microsoft change the screen right away, rather than waiting 15 months and then fining them.


Havent claimed they actually did it, but it is nothing new and it wouldn't surprise me and I doubt it would surprise you.
This whole ordeal feels weird to me.
Don't think MS did it by mistake. (their giant legal office should've noticed, no? ) They're usually quite careful trying not to tick anyone off that can start a giant anti-MS media campaign.
I understand the EU and why they are involved and from experience know things can take years before they react. The anti-monopoly laws originate from my country and I for one am really glad we had them and I hope people will realize we should be glad the EU has them.
It is about a common interest, the internet. It might not be EU's place to fight, but at least they're trying.