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A man looks at smartphones at the booth of Microsoft during preparations at the CeBit computer fair in Hanover, March, 4, 2013.
A man looks at smartphones at the booth of Microsoft during preparations at the CeBit computer fair in Hanover, March, 4, 2013.
(Fabian Bimmer/Reuters)

SEAN SILCOFF

Even Microsoft can’t afford too many mistakes like these

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The European Union’s antritrust regulator has levied an excessive and pointless penalty against Microsoft for a careless oversight by the software giant. The €561-million fine ($732-million) is a costly reminder that companies that make promises to regulators need to live up to them. That should be obvious. Equally obvious is the message that large, successful tech companies operating in Europe should be cynical and keep a chequebook handy – bending over backwards for regulators is a cost of doing business in the Old World. No doubt Google, which is embroiled in discussions with the EU in a separate anti-trust matter, is starting to wonder how much its settlement will cost.