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Microsoft has been hit with a $731 million fine, and all because they failed to keep a promise. The European Union penalized the company for  not giving consumers a choice in Internet browsers. 

In October, the EU warned that a fine was imminent, after an investigation last July revealed Microsoft to be in breach of its five-year contract. The tech company was supposed to give customers an option to access the ‘Net and instead defaulting them to Microsoft’s Explorer.

Failure to comply with the legal commitment marks the first time regulators have enforced such a hefty fiscal punishment.”Legally binding commitments reached in antitrust decisions play a very important role in our enforcement policy because they allow for rapid solutions to competition problems,”said Joaquin Almunia, top antitrust official of the EU. “A failure to comply is a very serious infringement that must be sanctioned accordingly.”

Alumnia added that she hoped the ruling will “make companies think twice before they even think of intentionally breaching their obligations or even of neglecting their duty to ensure strict compliance.”

Microsoft released a statement apologizing for their actions, vowing to have taken steps to “strengthen” their software development.

Over the last decade Microsoft has racked up a tab of 2.2 billion euros in EU fines.

Photo: Mike Brown/Reutuers