Microsoft settles lawsuit against Ballmer, Gates, others over browser ballot … – Computerworld

Microsoft on Friday told shareholders that it has settled a lawsuit brought last year against former CEOs Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates, the company’s board of directors and other top executives over a $732 million fine that European Union antitrust regulators slapped on the firm in 2013.

As part of the settlement, Microsoft will set aside $42.5 million to fund an antitrust compliance office for the next five years, and pay the plaintiffs’ lawyers at least $7.3 million, according to court documents and a Friday filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The case, which has been working its way through a Seattle, Wash. federal court since April 2014, stemmed from a multi-million-dollar blunder in 2012 when Microsoft was caught not displaying a browser ballot screen to users of Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) in the European Union.

After EU officials were informed of the gaffe — which was counter to a 2009 agreement Microsoft had signed — Microsoft acknowledged the oversight and apologized, but also downplayed the problem, saying it had been a “technical error” and blaming an engineering team for the screw-up.

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