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EU slaps Microsoft with $732 million penalty

The 'Microsoft' logo is seen on a tablet screen on December 4, 2012 in Paris.

The big number in tech on Wednesday was $732 million. That was the fine slapped on Microsoft by the European Union.

The company that makes Windows has been in a long antitrust battle in Europe. The EU says Microsoft abused its market dominance by making Internet Explorer the default browser on its Windows operating system.

In a 2009 settlement, the company agreed to give consumers a choice of other browsers, but by its own admission, Microsoft didn’t comply.

“The EU, they see it as a rebuke of their authority and more importantly an abuse of consumer choice,” says Chris Green, an analyst at Davies Murphy.

Today’s fine could be a warning to other tech companies. Google is in its own antitrust talks with the EU over its dominance as a search engine.

“Google should take the settlement very seriously because if they get caught red-handed, the fine will be extremely heavy,” says Nicolas Petit, a law professor at the University of Liege.

Microsoft says it takes full responsibility for the error.

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