Opera changes tune on Microsoft smartphones

Opera, the company that once produced a Bork version of its browser that turned MSN into Swedish chef-like gibberish, has now reached accord with the software giant

Opera Software has reversed its self-imposed ban on producing software for Microsoft Smartphones and says it will bring out a version of its browser for Microsoft Windows Mobile software.

Opera executives were not immediately available to comment on Tuesday, but in a statement executive vice-president of business development Rolf Assev said it had become necessary to have a fully cross-platform browser for smartphones. On the desktop, the Opera browser runs on most operating systems, including Windows, Linux, Solaris, Mac, FreeBSD and OS/2.

In the past, Opera has been a vocal critic of Microsoft. In February 2003, the Norwegian company released a new version of its desktop Web browser that turned Microsoft's MSN Web site into gibberish -- a move inspired by the Swedish Chef from The Muppet Show.

The "Bork Edition" of Opera 7 was Opera's response to what it alleged at the time were dishonest tactics by Microsoft to make Opera look like it was displaying pages improperly when people viewed MSN.

Opera, which is now a publicly traded company, says today's change of tune was prompted by operators who want to offer their subscribers the same Internet experience on all the different handsets coming from the various manufacturers. "We've heard the market's call, and we're responding," said Assev.

It's a far cry from the company's attitude last year when communications director Pål Hvistendahl said "we don't want Microsoft to win in this space, so we will never do a Windows CE port".

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