Saturday, December 15, 2007

Opera vs. IE: Round One, Fight!

I'm getting this feeling of deja vu... haven't we been through all this before? Today Opera filed an antitrust complaint with the European Union against Microsoft. According to Opera, the makers of an alternative web browser, Microsoft is using its dominant position to unfairly influence the web browser market by bundling Internet Explorer with Windows and by "not following accepted Web standards," which Opera says causes developers to create web pages specifically for IE that break in other browsers -- and thus lowers the incentive for users to switch.

The solution? Opera wants the EU to force Microsoft to stop bundling IE, or to bundle other browsers with the OS (i.e., Opera). They also request that the EU make Microsoft follow "fundamental and open Web standards accepted by the Web-authoring communities."

This is not an unfamiliar argument to Microsoft -- that tiff with the Justice Department was about much the same thing. But, as Larry Dignan points out, Opera might find a more receptive audience in the European Union than Netscape found in the US DoJ. The European Union has already ruled that bundling Windows Media Player with Windows was illegal, so a precedent in Opera's favor appears to exist (note: I am not a lawyer).

"Our complaint is necessary to get Microsoft to amend its practices," said Jason Hoida, Deputy General Counsel for Opera, in a press release."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."

Hold on to your hats. This one is just getting started...

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