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Opera Files EU Complaint Against Microsoft 455

Posted by kdawson
from the reopening-the-browser-wars dept.
A number of readers have sent word about Opera Software ASA's antitrust complaint against Microsoft filed with the EU. Here is Opera's press release on the filing. The company wants the EU to "obligate Microsoft to unbundle Internet Explorer from Windows and/or carry alternative browsers pre-installed on the desktop" and to "require Microsoft to follow fundamental and open Web standards accepted by the Web-authoring communities." The latter request makes this a case to watch. Will the Commissioner take the Acid2 test using IE7?
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Opera Files EU Complaint Against Microsoft

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  • Good PR for Opera (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Gothmolly (148874)
    Since no publicity is bad publicity, this is a cheap way for them to shout from the rooftops "We exist, we're a better browser than IE, IE sucks!! "

    Oh, and their lawsuit has merit, as well.
    • It's also a way to point out to the uninformed masses that Opera is the only browser for Windows right now that passes the Acid2 test.

      Under Windows:
      Opera passes, Firefox 2 does not, IE6 and IE7 do not.

      Under Linux (Fedora 8):
      Opera passes, Firefox 2 does not, Konqueror passes, Epiphany and Galeon do not.

      Lynx doesn't either. ;)

      I don't have a way to test Safari, but according to the Acid2 site, it fails as well.

      • It's also a way to point out to the uninformed masses that Opera is the only browser for Windows right now that passes the Acid2 test.

        I would be surprised if this is the case - Gran Paradiso certainly passes Acid2 under Linux so I see no reason why it would be different under Windows, and I was under the impression that Safari passed Acid2 as well.

        • According to the Acid2 site, Safari does not pass the Acid2 test.

          Gran Paradiso is alpha software, and as such is not ready for prime time. So while I'm glad that Firefox and other Mozilla based browsers will pass the Acid2 test eventually, the fact remains that they don't have a stable release that passes today, 12/13/2007.

          Of course, once KDE4 is out and it's possible to run KDE Apps under Windows with the QT4 support - Konqueror will join Opera in the group of browsers passing the test.
          • According to the Acid2 site, Safari does not pass the Acid2 test.

            Interesting. I just went to the site with Safari (Version 3.0.4 (523.12)) and to my eyes the rendering matches the reference.

  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu@NosPam.gmail.com> on Thursday December 13, 2007 @11:38AM (#21683845) Journal

    From the article:

    First, it requests the Commission to obligate Microsoft to unbundle Internet Explorer from Windows and/or carry alternative browsers pre-installed on the desktop.
    Wasn't this part of the settlement before? I often wonder why we have to see other countries doing the heavy lifting to throttle Microsoft. Microsoft lost, was set up for some pretty severe controls to be administered and lucked out with a changing of the guard and a Justice Department that lost any appetite to really control Microsoft.

    Also,

    Second, it asks the European Commission to require Microsoft to follow fundamental and open Web standards accepted by the Web-authoring communities.
    This one does get interesting. Maybe this is the avenue required to get Microsoft to move closer to compliance on the accepted standards. There certainly hasn't been any bending to pressures from developers.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by kylben (1008989)
      ...require Microsoft to follow fundamental and open Web standards accepted by the Web-authoring communities...

      This one does get interesting. Maybe this is the avenue required to get Microsoft to move closer to compliance on the accepted standards. There certainly hasn't been any bending to pressures from developers."

      Yeah, that's what we need, governments enforcing coding standards. Just wait till you get fined $100 for using 4 spaces instead of a tab.

      • by ByOhTek (1181381)
        I don't think it's coding standards that are the point here, or aesthetic standards. It's the functional standards of a published format that is in question here.

        Your example would be to require houses to have a certain brand or color of paint.
        This is more like requiring certain house surfaces be rated to carry minimum weights, be within a certain margin of level, etc.
    • Ever since Adobe sued Microsoft for bundling a PDF writer in with Office 2007, Microsoft has been pushing out a series of patches that breaks Flash Player content in IE. I'd love to see someone smack them with the equivalent of a cast iron skillet just because of how miserable they make every web developer world over.

      2 cents,

      QueenB.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Blakey Rat (99501)
        Ever since Adobe sued Microsoft for bundling a PDF writer in with Office 2007, Microsoft has been pushing out a series of patches that breaks Flash Player content in IE.

        Can you cite something?

        Microsoft was sued by Eolas over a software plug-in patent they owned, and they altered (not broke) the way Flash content behaves in IE. (Basically, they made it so you have to focus the Flash by clicking on it before you could interact with the Flash.) But that was:
        1) Not their idea, it was the result of a lawsuit, an
    • Wasn't this part of the settlement before?

      I'm not sure about the browser (which MS have always claimed is "integrated" and can't be removed). However, I believe they were required to unbundle things like Media player. I believe this resulted in them producing 2 versions of Windows, one with Media Player and the other without (which was ok per the ruling since they were providing an unbundled option), at the same price. So of course, given the choice, how many people are going to pick the version that is
  • Rehash (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jshriverWVU (810740) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @11:40AM (#21683881)
    This seems like a rehash of the Netscape suit years ago. Didnt that jumpstart the initial monopoly case? Anyway I find it more interesting at this point that they want for force IE into compliance with a standard that is defined and regulated by an open assembly. I think that is more important as that will ensure that web 3.0 doesn't use mono/.net, Silverlight or some proprietary based framework that forces us back to the days when you can't go to a bank, school, work, website w/o IE.
  • Great plan (Score:3, Funny)

    by farlukar (225243) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @11:41AM (#21683885) Homepage Journal
    Antitrust cases worked so well for getting WMP removed :)
    • by Calinous (985536)
      I assume you are sarcastic - but know that now THERE ARE WINDOWS VERSIONS without Media Player - XP Home Edition N and Professional Edition N
      • by Darkon (206829)

        THERE ARE WINDOWS VERSIONS without Media Player - XP Home Edition N and Professional Edition N
        And do you know a single person who uses either of them? Making something available doesn't oblige computer makers to install them.
  • by Hanners1979 (959741) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @11:43AM (#21683911) Homepage
    How am I going to download an Internet browser if my Operating System has no way of browsing the Internet?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Winckle (870180)
      wget or cURL with a very good memory.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Well, I see two ways:

      • OEM's bundle the browser of their choice for you.
      • Microsoft designs a system by which you can install binary software packages on Microsoft servers (or third party servers) using some program that ships with the OS. Then, that program could periodically update the OS.

      Personally, I think the latter option is more appealing, but only because we've been doing with with Linux for more than a decade.

    • by creimer (824291)
      In the old days, we used FTP to download a web browser. :P
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by d3m0nCr4t (869332)

      How am I going to download an Internet browser if my Operating System has no way of browsing the Internet?
      How am I going to download an Internet browser if my Microsoft Windows has no way of browsing the Internet? There, fixed that for you.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by FireFury03 (653718)
      How am I going to download an Internet browser if my Operating System has no way of browsing the Internet?

      yum install firefox
    • by linebackn (131821)
      How am I going to download an Internet browser if my Operating System has no way of browsing the Internet?

      The ideal way would be for IE to be a fully add/removable program. Lets say you install a fresh copy of Windows without IE and realize you don't happen to have a Firefox CD (they sell them on the Mozilla store, buy one today!). You go to add/remove programs, add IE just long enough to download Firefox, install Firefox, then go back to add/remove programs and remove IE. Should be simple enough.

      Of
    • by Kelson (129150) * on Thursday December 13, 2007 @02:36PM (#21686631) Homepage Journal

      From the Opera press release:

      First, it requests the Commission to obligate Microsoft to unbundle Internet Explorer from Windows and/or carry alternative browsers pre-installed on the desktop. (emphasis added)

      Unbundling IE doesn't necessarily mean shipping an OS without a browser. If IE is an optional component, OEMs could still preinstall one browser or another. Even Opera is taking into account the fact that removing IE entirely might not be feasible, and suggesting that the system come with at least one alternative.

      I agree that an OS needs to ship with a web browser. But it doesn't necessarily have to be a specific browser except for company policy. Witness Apple replacing IE with Safari, or Red Hat replacing Mozilla with Firefox, etc.

  • Likely to succeed (Score:2, Insightful)

    by say (191220)

    IANAL, but I think Opera might win this war. Netscape lost a similar battle, but they couldn't leverage the power of EU like Opera can. The EU is also likely to be biased towards Opera because it's a European company (although it is Norwegian, and Norway is not a member of the EU).

    On the other hand: the precedence from the media player debacle points to a possible "solution" (forcing Microsoft to release a special version without IE) which in practice means a loss to Opera. The potential buyer of such a pro

  • by DeeQ (1194763) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @11:46AM (#21683969)
    Some people actually like the browser. If microsoft had the choice of including other browsers or just not bundeling I'm pretty sure they would go with the no including one. That way they can start selling IE as its own piece of software getting them a couple bucks here and there. Think about it in these terms a typical home user is most likely to use windows. If a browser wasn't included they would have no idea how to get some free version browser like firefox. Thier only option would be to go down to the store and pick up a copy of IE. Granted I'm sure some people wouldn't buy windows if they started doing something like that but people in general are not aware of the alternatives to windows and IE. Also I enjoy Windows enough to deal with some of the problems but if they were to do something like that it would probably give me enough of a reason to start dual booting and just using windows strictly for games.
    • by say (191220)
      You are vastly underestimating the importance of "owning" an industry standard like MS wants to do with IE. A web browser isn't of any use in itself [to MS], but by controlling the entire market they can do "interesting" stuff like forcing people to use Windows because no other browser than IE can render the pages people need to/want to use. That's pretty much the recipe on how to unfairly take advantage of your position as a monopolist, but it is extremely profitable.
    • If a browser wasn't included they would have no idea how to get some free version browser like firefox. Thier only option would be to go down to the store and pick up a copy of IE.

      If the local computer store is going to sell a boxed version of IE, why would they not also sell a boxed version of FireFox, Opera, etc?

      Granted I'm sure some people wouldn't buy windows if they started doing something like that but people in general are not aware of the alternatives to windows and IE.

      That is _exactly_ the point th
    • How many people who use IE actually know what a "web browser" is?

      I imagine most of them, upon finding a browser wasn't included with their OS, would start asking each other and their geek friends what browser to use, rather than walking right down to the store and buying IE. The reason they assume IE == Internet is because it came with their OS. As soon as they have a choice between a free download and paying for an (arguably) inferior product, which will they choose?
  • Pointless (Score:2, Insightful)

    I dislike MS's monopolistic practices as much as anyone. But really, there's not much harm in bundling an OS with a browser IF they don't prevent OEMs from including other browsers or from removing the IE icon from the desktop.

    Even if MS were forced to include some other browser along with IE, that probably wouldn't help Opera. Unless, of course, their actual goal is to simply force MS to bundle *their* browser. And that would seem to be a fairly ridiculous demand.

    • by Tom (822)

      I dislike MS's monopolistic practices as much as anyone. But really, there's not much harm in bundling an OS with a browser IF they don't prevent OEMs from including other browsers or from removing the IE icon from the desktop.

      It's not about dislike, it's about illegal. MS is a convicted monopolist and the rules are different for them. They are leveraging their OS monopoly to dominate the browser market, and they are using their dominance in the browser market to damage competitors.
      Without the lever, the intentional incompatabilities of IE would make it 3rd choice or drive it into extinction. With the lever, web designers are forced to adapt to the "quirks" instead, producing webpages that work well on IE but not so on other (st

      • Re:Pointless (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @01:03PM (#21685277)

        They are leveraging their OS monopoly to dominate the browser market

        Are they? I know they *were*. They were doing that by preventing OEMs from including, say, Netscape on machines they sold. To my knowledge, they're not doing that anymore. Are they?

        they are using their dominance in the browser market to damage competitors

        How are they doing that now (not 10 years ago)? Simply having a product (an OS) that has good features (like a browser) is not unfairly damaging to competitors - that's just outcompeting your competitors. What are they doing now that was found to be illegal anticompetitive behavior last time? Because as I recall just bundling a browser wasn't part of that.

        Without the lever, the intentional incompatabilities of IE would make it 3rd choice or drive it into extinction. With the lever, web designers are forced to adapt to the "quirks" instead, producing webpages that work well on IE but not so on other (standards-complient) browsers, which in turn drives more people to IE, creating a lock-in effect.

        Seems a little weak to me. Seems to me it would be fairly easy for the Opera devs to get their browser to work with the IE quirks if they were interested in doing so. I realize they're not, but that's not the point. It just doesn't seem all that compelling a reason, to me, to go to a business and say "this is the engineering spec you have to work with by law". Doesn't seem at all reasonable to me. And again, I don't like MS. But remember, just having a monopoly is not in and of itself illegal. You'd have to prove that MS is using embrace and extend to intentionally make Opera not work. And that might be provable. But even then, best-case scenario is that MS would have to document how IE treats web pages (which I believe is documented now). I can't see the government deciding, by law, what HTTP standard they have to use.

        And somewhere along that route, a dozen or so laws have been broken and the only reason MS hasn't been drawn and quartered in the courts is that they move faster than the court system and will probably be bancrupt long before the final, crushing verdict is rendered.

        This is certainly true, but I think there are probably other places where MS is causing more problems than the browser "market". Heck, we saw the trial from the Win95 days drag on so long that it was made totally irrelevant by later versions of Windows. But I don't think that's at issue here. To me, this is kind of like the North trying to re-fight the Civil War - the issues are now largely irrelevant and we already won. MS lost. Like I said, unless they're still pressuring the OEMs....

        To me, the bigger issue is that these days almost any browser is "good enough" and free, so people will use whatever comes with their machine. That's not a matter of anticompetitive practices, it's a matter of consumer apathy. As such, Opera should focus more on OEMs than trying to sue their competition.

    • If IE was not an overwhelming majority of the browser market, or if IE was forced to comply with standards, Opera would both have to spend less time dealing with web quirks (and just tell non-standard sites to fuck off), and web sites would more likely work with Opera, which increases Opera's value.
  • De Facto Standard (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cid Highwind (9258) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @12:02PM (#21684251) Homepage
    They might want to specify that Microsoft should be compelled to follow published w3c standards, not just accepted standards. The "standards accepted by the Web-authoring communities" today are pretty much "Code everything for IE6. If there's free time after that's done and the pub isn't open yet, test in Firefox"...
  • Are there any Linux distributions that have Opera pre-installed? Most of the distributions i've used of late come with Firefox. My Nokia 770 (Linux based) came with Opera. I assumed that was because Opera has a smaller footprint than Firefox (but none too small for my 64 MB RAM (and no swap) pocket computer). However, it might be that Opera was written with GTK, or had been optimized for a stylus based user interface, or something.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by gzipped_tar (1151931)

      it might be that Opera was written with GTK

      I think the opera browser for desktop is linked to the QT libraries, at least so on a Fedora distro. Not sure whether this is true for Windoze or mobile phones.
  • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @12:03PM (#21684277) Journal
    Only people on acid use IE so it does indeed pass the "ACID TEST"
  • Fine (Score:2, Troll)

    by iamacat (583406)
    But also require Apple to unbundle Safari from MacOSX and Redhat to unbundle Firefox from Fedora (I don't think Opera would mind either development at all). Once upon a time Microsoft killed the market for alternative commercial browsers by bundling free IE. But times have changed. These days a browser is a requirement rather than an optional add on. Unbundling it would mean that users will not be able to use their newly installed operating system at all, even to find out where to buy/download a browser.

    How
  • Firefox, Opera, ...? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kellyb9 (954229)
    The easy solution rather then removing IE - why not just include two browsers on your operating system? I seriously think most users would like for the 'e' on their desktop regardless. I think a pretty interesting question would be: If MS was forced into removing their browser for some reason - what do you think they would bundle with their OS?

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