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Opera sets its sights on Microsoft

Just when we all thought that things were finally dying down for Microsoft in the European Commission-based anti-trust case there is now more fuel to add to the fire.

Opera Software ASA, maker of the Opera web browser, yesterday officially filed a complaint with the European Commission regarding Microsoft's inclusion of Internet Explorer with Windows. Opera wants the EU to force Microsoft to provide users with a choice of web browser to use.

"We are filing this complaint on behalf of all consumers who are tired of having a monopolist make choices for them," said Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner. "In addition to promoting the free choice of individual consumers, we are a champion of open Web standards and cross-platform innovation. We cannot rest until we've brought fair and equitable options to consumers worldwide."

Opera is seeking the following actions from the EU to "keep Microsoft in line" with respects to its competitors:

  • Remove Internet Explorer from its Windows operating systems. Opera is also asking that Microsoft allow for other web browsers to be pre-installed with Windows along with desktop icons for each respective browser.
  • Force Microsoft to comply with open Web standards brought forth by Web-authoring communities.

"Our complaint is necessary to get Microsoft to amend its practices," said Jason Hoida, Deputy General Counsel for Opera. "The European Court of First Instance confirmed in September that Microsoft has illegally tied Windows Media Player to Windows. We are simply asking the Commission to apply these same, clear principles to the Internet Explorer tie, a tie that has even more profound effects on consumers and innovation."

As many may recall, Microsoft finally gave up its fight with the EU in late October. The Redmond, Washington-based company came under fire for its monopolistic business practices in Europe and was ordered to pay a fine of $710 million USD.

In addition, Microsoft was also forced to provide interoperability information to its software competitors and reduce the royalties for its software licenses and patents. To add insult to injury, Microsoft was also forced to pay 80 percent of the European Commission’s legal fees.

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RE: Tired of complaints.
By kelmon on 12/14/2007 4:11:23 AM , Rating: 2
So why should our OS be any different, It is an OS, not an OS + browser + media player + whatever else. We should not be forced to install its sluggish overbearing MS crap just to use the host OS. I have thought this for years.

This sort of misses the issue. The problem is not the bundling of applications with the OS but rather the ease with which you can use a competitor's product (i.e. you should be able to switch without penalty). Because IE has resulted in IE-only web sites you can't switch to Opera, Firefox or Safari without penalty. Both Windows Media Player and iTunes are guilty of this offense - you need to use these applications to play DRMed media, although there are plenty of players that you can install that understand standard media formats.

Really, this issue boils down to file formats rather than applications. While HTML is supposed to be a standard, Microsoft has almost managed to create its own version by interpreting it differently to everyone else. If file formats are open and interpreted the same then competition can exist between the applications that read them as long as nothing prevents you from removing and installing them. Proprietary file formats or attempts to hijack open formats should be avoided.

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