Opera files Web browser antitrust complaint against Microsoft with EU

Opera Software filed a complaint with the European Commission yesterday which is aimed at giving consumers a genuine choice of Web browsers.

The complaint describes how Microsoft is abusing its dominant position by tying its browser, Internet Explorer, to the Windows operating system and by hindering interoperability by not following accepted Web standards. Opera has requested the Commission to take the necessary actions to compel Microsoft to give consumers a real choice and to support open Web standards in Internet Explorer.

“We are filing this complaint on behalf of all consumers who are tired of having a monopolist make choices for them,” said Jon von Tetzchner, CEO of Opera, in the press release. “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 requests the Commission to implement two remedies to Microsoft’s abusive actions. First, it requests the Commission to obligate Microsoft to unbundle Internet Explorer from Windows and/or carry alternative browsers pre-installed on the desktop. Second, it asks the European Commission to require Microsoft to follow fundamental and open Web standards accepted by the Web-authoring communities. The complaint calls on Microsoft to adhere to its own public pronouncements to support these standards, instead of stifling them with its notorious “Embrace, Extend and Extinguish” strategy. Microsoft’s unilateral control over standards in some markets creates a de facto standard that is more costly to support, harder to maintain, and technologically inferior and that can even expose users to security risks.

“Our complaint is necessary to get Microsoft to amend its practices,” said Jason Hoida, Deputy General Counsel, Opera,in the 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. We are confident that the Commission understands the significance of the Internet Explorer tie and will take the necessary actions to restore competition and consumer choice in the browser market.”

Absent Microsoft’s abuse, Microsoft would have been forced to compete on a level playing field with Opera and other browsers. Instead of innovating, Microsoft has locked consumers to its own browser and only recently begun to offer some of the innovative features that other browsers have offered for years.

Both of Opera’s requested remedies are intended to give consumers greater freedom and flexibility while at the same time ensuring that the Web further develops into a platform for innovation. Opera believes that the remedies will help promote consumer rights worldwide and force Microsoft to begin competing with Opera and others on the merits of its browser.

Source: Opera Software ASA

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Mr Skills” for the heads up.]

MacDailyNews Take: Obviously, Microsoft should follow accepted Web standards within Internet Explorer, allow for Internet Explorer to be completely removed from Windows, and permit other browsers to be made the default browser. Also, Web developers who create IE-only websites should have their computers taken away until they get a clue.


  1. It should be noted that Apple too bundles a web browser from its OS. Furthermore, this browser cannot be completely removed because WebKit (the heart of Safari) is required for numerous OS X components.

    Not saying I have a problem with this. It’s just that, if MS can’t bundle a browser, doesn’t that mean Apple can’t either?

  2. It’s not the same as Apple for several reasons, the first being that MS works within an “open” space and unfairly competes against competitors/partners, while claiming its so-called openness. Apple offers a unified product that in no way precludes using competitors’ products. MS’s openness is a farce and now they’re getting torn apart, bit by bit for it. Ugh. don’t get me started.

  3. You can remove Safari without removing Webkit. Just delete Safari from the Applications folder. Also, in Safari’s Preferences, you can specify a default browser. IE does not have these provisions. Also, IE is the ONLY way to access Windows Update. Safari is not required to access Apple’s Software Update.

  4. IE is an awful browser, I always develop websites with FF and/or Safari. All the IE-mess is done afterwards. It’s unbelievable how ignorant M$ is in terms of webstandards etc., but it’s nice to see how they have to pay for years of ignorance step by step in various parts ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

  5. Hey von Tetzchner: CRY ME A RIVER!

    Microsoft isn’t any more a monopolist than U.S. Senator Larry Craig is a homosexual. The fine folks in Redmond are too busy innovating the next big user friendly browser features to deal with your namby pamby lawsuit. Besides, Microsoft doesn’t have time or room for your dopey “standards” in Explorer. It doesn’t need them. Microsoft is the only standard you need. Crybaby.

    Your potential. Our passion.™

  6. Trust me, folks. All your arguments are valid! Just playing devil’s advocate so as to encourage healthy debate.

    I agree that the benefit of Safari is that Apple is not using it to stifle open standards. If anything, Apple has gone a long way to encouraging investment in stuff like AJAX, CSS, and basically anything non-Flash and non-ActiveX by making Safari totally cross-platform. That is to say, Safari is available on PC, Mac, and handheld.

    I just get nervous when we start talking about how Microsoft has to unbundle all its applications. After all, it is the bundled software that makes Mac OS so useful out of the box. One day, if the share gets large enough, they might start targeting Apple too. I think the better solution for the long-term viability of the industry is to make it as easy as possible to access 3rd party software.

  7. Apple has been very clever and supports Internet standards and open standards in general. Apple wins by providing the best user experience and not screwing its customers. It will be very hard for any anti-trust charges to stick against Apple.

    I run Camino in addition to Safari once in a while, but lean to heavily towards Safari, now that moveable tabs are supported. If an alternate browser had some feature(s) that I needed, I would have no problem launching that browser and using it. Apple does not get in the way.

    Apple is a winner. I have no apologies for being a fanboy. Apple has won my business, the bulk of my investments and my respect. Apple haters can kiss my ass.

  8. I like this suit. The suck factor of most websites is browser-detect in javascripts…and all because the boys in Redmond haven’t a shred of integrity.

    I dunno how they sleep at night, but they should be squirming, burning, tossin’ and turnin.’ That kind of stress – knowing you’re deliberately putting out malware – can affect your immune system. Man…if you work for the borg, get out before you get cancer. Like Gulf War Syndrome, those responsible will deny the existence of Microsoft Malware Syndrome. You’ll get screwed. And die. And no one will remember you by.

    It’s not too late to get another job.

    Oh…one more thing. Apple employees suffering from lack of sleep [Apple Deadline Syndrome] – at least you sleep well when you sleep. More like crash. Or pass out. And wake up with the solution to the problem fresh in your head.

  9. Bundling is nobody else’s business, though users should be able to un-bundle and trash a browser (as Apple permits you to do). As for standards, that would be a good thing, but I’d rather have consumers enforce them than some techno-illiterate judge. Apple has the right idea. When it comes to competition, lay off the courts and out-innovate the ba*tards!
    Go Apple!

  10. There’s a big difference between bundling apps together on top of an OS. Remember, the iLife apps come bundled on a new Mac. However, if you want updates of iLife apps, you’ve gotta buy them separately… and you do have a choice about it.

    What Microsoft does, is not really bundling. M$ actually shackles IE <u>into</u> the innards of the Windows OS. Then, while it gives lip service to standards, it makes proprietary versions of those standards, shackling clueless web developers and corporate application developers to IE’s proprietary de facto “standards”.

    Proof is still there for a case with the EU: MS IE 7 does not pass the Acid2 web standards test.

  11. As firefox + others slowly consumes the peice of cruftus that is IE then this issue becomes increasingly moot anyway. However, be nice for Opera to resist the settlement Microsh*t will eventually offer it and fight this to the end. EU is the place were these battles need to be fought because Microsh*t, indicative in EU eyes of all things bad about the US and its business practices, won’t have too many friends and that may allow real judgements to be made: no political expedience requried here, not like in US. Maybe Microsh*t will buy Opera and have a halfway decent browser?

  12. Microsoft is acting like a monopolist that it is… lazy, non-competitive, and anti-consumer. Such monopolies need to be regulated, so that they behave appropriately. Seems to me, Microsoft has been caught in the trap of its earlier success, and will now simply stagnate until it is no longer relevant.

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