The European Union Commission has fined Microsoft $731 million for breaking an anti-trust promise, setting a strong precedent for how things can go for Google in its European anti-trust investigation. The charge comes as a result of the Windows maker failing to commit to a previous anti-trust agreement, in which it said it would offer more browser choice to consumers by not just automatically installing Internet Explorer on PCs. It didn't do that, ergo the fine. This is the first time the EU has ever fined a company for breaking a promise, setting a precedent for future companies, especially tech ones, who don't comply. "It’s important for the commission to show it’s serious in this case because this will set a precedent, and because the commission increasingly uses settlements to help reach solutions more quickly, especially in the fast-moving technology sector," Nicolas Petit, a professor of competition law and economics at the University of Liège in Belgium, told The New York Times's James Kanter.
One such tech company that might want to pay attention is Google. It's in the middle of its own anti-trust negotiations with the EU. The two sides haven't reached a deal yet, but the settlement should include changes to the way Google conducts business, according to a separate Kanter article. The Microsoft fine shows what will happen if Google makes empty promises. "Even if Google and the commission reach a settlement, a substantial fine for Microsoft would serve as a warning that a company violates such a settlement at its financial peril," Kanter explains.