If you are old enough you may recall when everyone loved to hate Microsoft. They appeared to have the kind of arrogant monopoly powers which are normally attributed to third world dictators (BTW RIP Hugo Chavez…turns out not only the good die young after all) or more recently Google. Whilst the US regulators never really did humble the Redmond Giant it’s own litany of missed opportunity and dropped balls (Search, mobile, social etc etc) have rendered it if not humble then at least a little shame faced on occasion…only Sony has lost dominance in more market sectors in the last 20 years. Back when they were still an evil empire the EU imposed an anti monopoly deal on them which required that they offer users of Windows alternate browsers to the God awful Internet Explorer when they install Windows or take delivery of a new machine. Unfortunately when they launched Windows 7 (SP1) they “forgot” to include the option to choose and continued to forget to include the option for 15 months. The fact that the EU was relying on Microsoft policing its self (as opposed to occasionally installing a Windows product and checking that the option was there) is testament to how lazy and dumb public servants can on occasion be.
Eventually even Windows spotted this “glitch”and having apologized profusely we all sat back and waited for the EU to impose the nearly $8BN fine they could in theory impose. As it turned out they actually fined MS less than 10% of that ($732MM) today. I actually heard the collective sigh of release from my office thousands of miles away. I’m sure if MS checks behind the sofa cushion they will find enough to pay the ticket. The kicker to this comic opera story is that once again the EU will rely on Microsoft to police it’s self going forwards…..to quote my good friend Hedwig of Angry Inch “I laugh, because I will cry if I don’t.”