Browser software company Opera has filed a complaint to the European Commission over Microsoft's bundling of Internet Explorer with the Windows operating system -- but Microsoft says it's been doing it for a decade and the practice is good for consumers.
The complaint centres on Microsoft's practice of tying its Internet Explorer Web browser to the Windows operating system, which Opera claims is hindering interoperability with other operating systems.
"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 a statement.
Opera has asked the Commission to force Microsoft into separating Internet Explorer from Windows and even bundle alternative browsers on the desktop.
Opera's lawyers are hoping that the precedent set by a 2004 decision against Microsoft's practice of bundling Windows Media Player into its operating system can be used to achieve the same level of compliance with open standards for Internet Explorer.
"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," said Jason Hoida, Opera's deputy general counsel, in a statement.
The European Committee for Interoperable Systems has backed up Opera, which is a member of the organisation.
Thomas Vinje, legal counsel for ICIS said that by tying Explorer to Windows, which it claims holds a monopoly over the desktop, Microsoft is attempting to control people's access to the Internet.However Microsoft claims the decision to include its browser into the operating system benefits consumers.
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"We will of course cooperate with any inquiries into these issues, but we believe the inclusion of the browser into the operating system benefits consumers, and that consumers and PC manufacturers already are free to choose to use any browsers they wish," a spokesperson for Microsoft said.
"It's important to note that computer users have complete freedom of choice to use and set as default any browser they wish, including Opera, and PC manufacturers can also preinstall any browser as the default on any Windows machine they sell," they said.