Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

An Expensive Error

“C. S.-W.”, the Economist:1

Microsoft, maker of the Windows 8 operating system and the Internet Explorer web browser, has been fined €561m ($732m) by the European Union’s antitrust regulators for breaking a promise to offer its customers a choice of the browser they would like to use to surf the internet on their personal computers.

As the company in charge of the most-used operating system in the world, Microsoft has special rules to follow. Offering users a choice of browser is one of those requirements, and it appears that a tiny error is going to cost them dearly. But Christopher Mims of Quartz2 thinks that the fine is a small price to pay for Microsoft’s grander strategy:

Granted, Microsoft is going to miss the half billion dollars in US cash equivalent (if it were repatriated and US taxes paid) that the EU will be extracting from the company, but given that Microsoft can’t figure out what else to do with its cash, that may simply be the cost of maintaining market share for its desktop browser.

Interesting take, but I don’t buy it. That seems like a large price to pay for a product that does not directly generate revenue, and cannot do so without striking a deal with the competition.

  1. I really hate this style of attribution. What’s wrong with a name? ↩︎

  2. I really hate this Javascript-heavy website. It’s a usability nightmare. ↩︎