Microsoft browser lock in sparks Opera rage

Microsoft browser lock in sparks Opera rage

Summary: Browser software company, Opera, has complained 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.

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TOPICS: Browser
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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.

Topic: Browser

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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11 comments
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  • Good for consumers?

    Well I am a customer, not a consumer and I would much rather be able to remove programs I don't use, say like internet Explorer, Outlook Express etc.

    Also note that some programs can still activate IE even when I have told Windows to deny access to it.

    How is this good for me?

    I hope Opera win this and I hope the rest of the world takes note, the EU do get some things right.
    anonymous
  • We consumers are hard done by

    How terrible it is for us to have only 1 FREE browser bundled with Windows.

    Opera's action can only hurt consumers by causing legal action which increases Microsoft's costs which will be passed on to consumers. Even if they win then there is more extra cost organising the additional software, sorting out who gets in who doesnt, and support issues. On top of that the average consumer is forced to make a choice between products which for all they can see are pretty much the same.

    This whole thing is a joke and reminds me of the Netscape debarcle. Opera would be better off spending their money on better marketing and better features that make their product more compelling to use.

    When will these companies learn that you cant beat Microsoft with litigation. You may get a few hits in here and there but ultimately their pockets are much deeper. The way to beat Microsoft is with innovation. You have to keep one step ahead though - not have a couple of good ideas and then sit on them and whinge when Microsoft catch up.
    anonymous
  • Read the article

    ..Opera is complaining rightfully. Can you uninstall IE from your windows machine? Think about it pal.
    anonymous
  • Do I care?

    I cant uninstall Windows Explorer either even though there are alternative file managers available.

    How far do we take this?

    The fact is the average consumer doesn't give a toss about other browsers as they don't care about other file managers even though they might be better.

    For those that do there is always Linux.
    anonymous
  • For the price of a "free" browser...

    While true that MS may pass on the pain ($$) to consumers, how many thousands if not millions of work hours has MS caused the web development community as a whole, simply because they REFUSE to comply with standards? How many millions of dollars of work hours have programmers and designers all over the world WASTED because MS have the browser monopoly, and don't follow standards?

    Yes Firefox and Opera don't comply 100% either, however whenever I create a site, I have to write it once to support Firefox, Opera, <insert standards following browser>, (which is QUICK and EASY because they follow well documented standards), and then spend 50% of the time it took me to write it initially, to fix and hack at the code to make it work with IE7, and then even more time to make it word with IE6.

    MS have butchered the web. If they were compliant with standards, more open with their procedures and made it easier for developers all of a sudden companies would be saving insane amounts of work hours in the long run, and that is what makes it worth any short term "punishment" from MS. Of course the down side is that they'd now no longer have the monopoly and... Wait for it... They wouldn't be making as much money! THAT is why they do what they do with IE.
    anonymous
  • Whining Gits

    What a pack of whingers...
    anonymous
  • I agree

    People who want to use alternative broswers have the ability to do so. What are they going to download Opera with without a defalt browser in place at the time of a Windows install?

    Also, Windows Update only works properly with IE so getting rid of it would do more harm than good.
    anonymous
  • exactly the point

    That phrase 'only works with IE' is what the world needs to remove to allow proper competition. Until then, Microsoft will ALWAYS have the requirement there for you to have THEIR software.
    anonymous
  • Get a Mac

    Sheesh... get Mac and be done with it. MS has long built the underlying HTML engine into it's OS, you can't get rid of it - you can get rid of the IE shell but even then u can't get rid it fully. Get Mac, best way to not use IE...

    Btw, you can remove Outlook Express from Add Remove Windows Component... sheesh.

    What a load of baloney! Yeah, in a previous ruling against MS, EU believes there's a demand for Windows XP without Windows Media Player - to date, in Europe they have sold exactly 5 copies... sheesh... yeah, they get it right... NOT!

    Keep governments out of private industry, and no they absolutely SHOULD NOT decide which feature a company can implement....
    anonymous
  • Stop whining

    You can't uninstall core OS components, but that doesn't mean you can't use other browsers... sheesh...

    And if that still sticks you - get a Mac, and be done with it. I did, now I can run Windows and Mac... geez, stop the whining
    anonymous
  • They absolutely should

    otherwise you end up with a gruesome monopoly like the whole ipod itunes lock in situation.
    anonymous