Google, Opera 'reported Microsoft’s browser breach to EU'

Google, Opera 'reported Microsoft’s browser breach to EU'

Summary: Microsoft's browser fine could serve as a warning shot across Google's bows.


Europe's investigation into Microsoft's failure to comply with its "browser choice" settlement look to have been triggered by Google and Norwegian browser-maker Opera. 

Microsoft's €561m ($731m) fine for failing to offer 15 million Europeans a "browser ballot" screen with new Windows 7 Service Pack 1 machines may have been prompted by its browser rivals, Google and Opera. 

Google and Opera informally notified the European Commission and helped investigators, according to a Financial Times report, which notes that Europe's antitrust chief Joaquín Almunia has said that Microsoft's rivals alerted him to the oversight.

Neither Google or Opera have responded to requests for comment by ZDNet, however Opera's involvement, if true, would not be a surprise given it filed the initial complaint with the EU in 2007 that led to Microsoft's original settlement in 2009.

Microsoft's fine may be a small victory for Google, but Europe's tough stance on non-compliance could also be viewed as a warning shot to Google, whose search business is in a similar situation with regulators as Microsoft's browser was.

Google and the European Commission are still negotiating the terms of a settlement under Article 9 of Europe's antitrust regulation that would bring its current probe into Google's dominance in search to an end.

One option on the cards is to force Google into "diverting traffic". However under Article 9, Google would not face initial fine as Microsoft did, unless, like Microsoft, it breaks a commitment after the settlement.

Topics: Google, Browser, Microsoft

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • It Doesn't Work Both Ways

    Is it possible to install IE on Apple iOS or Chromebook?

    Will Tran
    • Bad examples

      You see, neither Microsoft nor Apple have ported their web browsers, Internet Explorer and Safari, respectively, to Linux.

      Good examples would have been the Mozilla Firefox and Opera web browsers as both are available for Linux.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
    • As for Apple's iOS ...

      Microsoft has not ported Internet Explorer to iOS (and has not ported Internet Explorer to Macs for quite some time).

      Again, Mozilla Firefox, would have been the better example.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
      • Microsoft is not allowed to port IE to ios

        IE is defined by the use of its Trident engine and apple will not allow anyone to use anything other than apple's rendering engine and apple's javascript engine on ios. Even Chrome on ios isn't anything more than a wrapper around the engines powering safari except that all the performance has been removed from the engine because only safari is allowed to use performance optimizations (apple is afraid that those performance optimizations could be used by 3rd party app authors to bypass security features in ios).

        Same argument goes for Mozilla. Firefox is defined by the use of its Gecko engine. Mozilla can't bring Firefox with Gecko to ios. apple won't let them.

        Think about that for a second. While MS has been (and is being) fined billions of dollars for allowing 3rd party browsers on its platform, the #1 dominant tablet maker in the world has been fined nothing and won't allow any competing browsers at all.

        So while you had a point about MS not porting IE to Linux (but Linux is a kernel, wait a second, how to you port a browser to a kernel, I thought it was bad bad bad to tie a browser to a kernel?) you lost it with your ios comparison.
        • RE: "Microsoft is not allowed to port IE to ios"

          Sure, they could. Opera got around this on iOS with their Presto-based, Opera Mini 6 web browser. Microsoft could choose to do similarly with Internet Explorer.

          Was Opera's solution on iOS optimal? No, and Mozilla isn't bothering to port Firefox to iOS in a similar manner.
          Rabid Howler Monkey
          • Opera Mini isn't a browser

            It is a remote desktop solution. That would be like saying that IE is available on Linux, all you have to do is remote desktop into a Windows PC.
          • Overstating the Case

            Opera Mini is a much thinner client than other browsers, but it is not THAT thin. It is still a browser.
          • It is not a browser

            It can't render HTML and it can't execute JavaScript. All JavaScript runs on the server so that all user interaction is sent to the server for processing and the result is returned, which is EXACTLY how a remote desktop works.

            Yes, it is that thin.
        • Some details regarding Opera Mini on iOS

          Note that Opera Mini was the first "true" alternate browser, "rendering engine and all", on iOS to be approved by Apple for distribution in its App Store:

          "Review: Opera Mini for iPhone different, not exactly better

          Rabid Howler Monkey
    • You should check your history

      MS used provide a version of IE for Mac, but decided to stop updating it ages ago.
      • History: Internet Explorer hasn't been available for Macs since 2006

        Rabid Howler Monkey
      • Microsoft and Apple inked a deal ages ago

        that Microsoft would stop making MSIE for Mac. The last real version of MSIE for Mac was 5.2.something, and that was released in 2003. They removed the download link from their site in 2006.
  • Snitch!

    I knew it was google behind this, they just love scroogled others.
    • If Microsoft got an Alzheimer

      There should be someone sane to sort things out. Microsoft's dementia with Feb 29th, ssl certificates failure and this one is a pretty lame excuse.
      And BTW, with all that frenzy, hostile, overzealous Microsoft's attitude and dirty campaigns against Google, it should be called a "payback time" .
  • Eu

    731 millions fine is un unthinkable amount of money for a computer failure that had a very little effect on the people. The way they came up with that precise fine is unclear. Nobody was unable to browse the web during that period.

    Every day Google lures their user by the impression of "free" software but hides the hidden costs, their profiling and the fact that Google sells add an makes millions from those data, selling adds. Nobody seems to really care about that. There is only one browser on the iPad. Nobody cares.

    Microsoft have been associated with imperialism practice and it seems that even not as dominant as they use to, they can't loose this stigma.

    For me, it's way too much money for something that add very little effect on people lives. Each time I use Google using IE, I get an add from Google to change browser. It's not like Microsoft could hide the other players.
    • RE: "There is only one browser on the iPad. Nobody cares."

      I care, as I prefer the Mozilla Firefox web browser to the WebKit-based web browsers (which, soon, will include Opera).

      A similar situation exists on Chrome OS which also runs a single web browser. Would love to have Google enable Mozilla Firefox to run as a tab in the Chrome web browser on Chrome OS. Perhaps as a native client as they are doing with QuickOffice?
      Rabid Howler Monkey
      • when

        Google has a monopoly in this market to be able to abuse , I am sure they get fined and would deserve it.
  • And people blame Microsoft for the war

    This "Scroogled" campaign was not started by Microsoft but Google many years ago when they complained to the EU about this "monopoly" browser issue. Let's see where do I see my browser ballot on my Android Phone? What are you saying that Android doesn't have a monopoly on the mobile spectre of the market?
    • Scroogled ?

      People have been Microshafted for a lot longer.
      Alan Smithie
      • What do you know ?

        Windows and Office have been a unifying foundation in the 80’s and 90’on which an entire industry as grown. Many programmers, developers, system architect and the people have benefited from this platform. Microsoft didn’t steal that success, they earned it.

        The IT industry has now grown and matured and more openness is necessary. There are now many excellent platforms to choose from. The problem is that Microsoft is the only one that gets such a treatment and I don’t get it. Even if Apple makes shiny products that make you think you are brighter by owning them, they should have the same obligation to openness. And Google is making zillions luring people with a business strategy based solely on people’s personal data. They should have the same obligation. I don’t any signs of that on the Chrome OS do you ?