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Microsoft fined; Toyota taps ex-GM exec; steady job gains reported

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 12:33 pm

EU fines Microsoft $733M for breaking browser pact

AMSTERDAM – The European Union has fined Microsoft 561 million euro ($733 million) for breaking a pledge to offer personal computer users a choice of Internet browsers when they install the company's flagship Windows operating system.

The penalty imposed by the EU's executive arm, the Commission, is a first for Brussels: no company has ever failed to keep its end of a bargain with EU authorities before.

In 2009, Microsoft Corp. struck a broad settlement with the Commission to resolve disputes over the company's abuse of the dominance of Windows, which had spanned more than a decade.

Back then, the company agreed to pay 860 million euro and promised to give Windows users the option of choosing another browser rather than having Microsoft's Internet Explorer automatically installed on their machines.

But Microsoft failed to stick to the deal for some 15 million installations of Windows 7 software in Europe from May 2011 until July 2012. The company admitted the failure last year, adding that it was a mistake.

Former GM executive tapped for Toyota board

TOKYO – Toyota has tapped a former executive at U.S. rival General Motors to join its board, the first time in the Japanese automaker's 76-year history it is appointing directors from outside the company.

The appointment of Mark Hogan, effective April 1, underlines efforts at Toyota Motor Corp. to become more internationally minded, transparent and nimble in regional markets as it recovers from difficult years, including a massive recall fiasco in the U.S.

Under changes announced Wednesday by President Akio Toyoda, Toyota will set up a new division to oversee North American, European and Japanese markets and another for emerging markets.

The world's biggest automaker also promoted four non-Japanese managers to oversee regional businesses.

Private survey shows steady job gains in February

WASHINGTON – A private survey shows U.S. businesses added a solid number of jobs in February, indicating higher taxes and looming government spending cuts have yet to slow hiring.

Employers added 198,000 jobs in February, according to data released Wednesday by payroll processor ADP. And the survey revised January's hiring figures to show companies added 215,000 jobs that month, 23,000 more than what had initially been reported.

The figure suggests that the government's February jobs report, to be issued Friday, may come in above economists' forecasts. Analysts expect it will show the economy added 152,000 jobs and the unemployment rate dipped to 7.8 percent from 7.9 percent in January.