European Union regulators say they are fining U.S.-based Microsoft Corporation $731 million for violating an agreement to give computer users their choice of web browsers, not force them to use the company's Internet Explorer.
The EU imposed the fine Wednesday - the first time regulators in Brussels ever have fined a company for failing to comply with an agreement reached with European authorities.
European Commissioner for Competition Joaquin Almunia speaks during a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Mar. 6, 2013.
The EU's top corporate regulator, Joaquin Almunia, said Microsoft, the world's largest software maker, had been trusted to live up to a 2009 agreement to offer access to browsers other than Internet Explorer on its Windows operating systems.
Last July, Microsoft acknowledged that for more than a year it had failed to offer the choice of browsers to users of about 28 million computers in Europe. Microsoft said that was a mistake, not an intentional violation of the agreement.
In all, over the last decade, European antitrust regulators have now fined Microsoft nearly $3 billion. Almunia said he hoped that the latest fine "will make companies think twice" about their agreements with regulators.
Microsoft said it took "full responsibility for the technical error" of not offering a choice of browsers, and has apologized for it. The company said it has taken steps to improve its software development and avoid a similar mistake in the future.