Microsoft hits back at Opera antitrust claims

Microsoft hits back at Opera antitrust claims

Summary: The software giant has denied abusing its dominant market position to tie users to Internet Explorer

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Microsoft has hit back at Opera antitrust claims regarding Internet Explorer, denying that it is abusing its dominant market position to lock users into the web browser.

The Norwegian browser company announced on Thursday that it had filed an antitrust complaint with the European Commission against Microsoft, over Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) web browser. Opera's complaint was that Microsoft is abusing its dominant position by bundling IE with the Windows operating system. Bundling IE together with Windows means users have no choice in recieving it, they only have the option of deleting it afterwards.

Opera also claimed that Microsoft is hindering interoperability by not following accepted open web standards.

On Friday Microsoft hit back, indicating that it would not willingly unbundle IE from Windows.

"We believe the inclusion of the [IE] browser into the operating system benefits consumers, and that consumers and PC manufacturers are already free to choose to use any browsers they wish," said a Microsoft spokesperson. "Internet Explorer has been an integral part of the Windows operating system for over a decade and supports a wide range of web standards."

The Microsoft spokesperson claimed 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."

Opera filed the complaint against Microsoft on Wednesday, claiming that Microsoft has locked consumers into using IE, which has "only recently begun to offer some of the innovative features that other browsers have offered for years", such as tabbed browsing.

"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, chief executive officer of Opera. "In addition to promoting the free choice of individual consumers, we are a champion of open web standards and cross-platform innovation."

Opera asked the Commission to force Microsoft to unbundle IE from Windows, and to carry alternative browsers pre-installed on the desktop. Opera also asked the Commission to require Microsoft to follow "fundamental and open web standards accepted by web-authoring communities".

The browser company claimed that Microsoft's "unilateral control over standards in some markets has created a de facto standard that is more costly to support, harder to maintain, and technologically inferior and that can even expose users to security risks."

Critics of IE have claimed that the browser is not as secure as other browsers. Tristan Nitot, the president of Mozilla Europe, told ZDNet.co.uk last week that vulnerabilities in IE far outstrip flaws in Mozilla's Firefox browser in terms of severity and time to update.

 

Topic: Operating Systems

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com. He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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17 comments
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  • Internet Explorer/Opera et al.

    I don't share Opera's view that Microsoft should not bundle IE and Outlook Express with their operating system although I have, in the past, suffered mounds of spam, phishing and trojan activity whilst using the browser and e-mailer. I have put this to rights by moving to Firefox and Thunderbird and have had practically zero problems - but, my point is that with my new PC I can at least get instantly online whilst choosing alternative browsers, and the choice is mine to change at any time. I fancy that if Opera had an OS like Windows it would bundle it's own browser etc.!?

    airwolf

    Merry Christmas every body, and a good IT 2008.
    1000044543
  • Unbundling vs. OmniBundling

    I'm not sure it's a case of unbundling, more a case of bundling other products to allow user's a greater choice - OmniBundling.

    Microsoft's products are now ubiquitous in our society and with great power comes great responsibility!

    I've worked as an IT Helpdesk Support Agent and I can tell you from experience that many, many internet users dont know what the term 'browser' means, they simply view IE as 'THE way to surf the web' - they've never heard of or imagined alternatives. They implicitly trust Microsoft and they trust the blue E on the desktop. Microsoft do their best to perpetuate this ignorance as a way of covering up IE's failings.

    If Opera and Firefox were installed on a machine fresh-out-of-the-box people would click them, people would try them out, people would realise there are alternatives and then they could choose what they wanted to use. That's fair!
    leytonjay
  • For the record, how DO you delete I.E. from a Windows machine?

    Just removing the icon from the desktop doesn't count! I'm talking about uninstalling the rendering engine itself so that its code is no longer present on the PC. How do you do that on XP or Vista?
    Zogg
  • Opera and Firefox fresh out of the box

    Well, if I were Microsoft I would not want to advertise other peoples wares. Just think, if you were, say, a motor manufacturer and you issued a brochure, it would be about your own cars, wouldn't it? You would hardly say, well, take a look at the latest Fords, they're pretty good and so are Lexus and Toyota. But we hope you will come back and buy one of ours. Similarly, your dealer network would not be encouraged to draw a prospective customer's attention to another manufacturer.
    1000044543
  • Deleting IE from your machine.

    Well, I am not sufficiently IT competent to pontificate on total annihilation of any programme. I have the feeling that rather like deleting files, you do not actually remove them from your hard disk. All I can say is that once I was happy with Firefox I searched for IE and deleted everything I could. I couldn't clear everything out, but recently I needed IE in order to view and interact with a programme of interest which did not present itself well in Firefox. I tried to call up the remains of IE and all I got was a raspberry! Then, having offended Microsoft, I found I couldn't get back to Firefox. In short, I had to power down, wait the statutory five seconds for the hard disk to stop, then start up again. Thence no problems, so I am reluctant to try IE again.......
    1000044543
  • Any browser on any win machine.

    Manufactures should be able to include other browsers. If you run windows and hit the internet with IE running you are going to get all sorts of bad things before you can get your machine secure. You have to download preventive programs. Most new users are unaware of the weakness of IE and outlook and can ruin a new machine in a couple of days. I have helped a co-worker re-install a month old machine due to excessive adware, malware, popups, and a virus. With Linux you get FF, Konqueror, Flock, Opera, and can install others, Thank God IE is not available for Linux.
    ator1940
  • Any browser on any machine

    I know about trashing a new machine! My present one, a Mesh something or other, came with IE and OE. Within a few days there came a notification of an update for IE. I clicked on the appropriate button and all hell was let loose - pages of filth being the most prolific, but lots of other crap too. I could not use the machine for anything else, because to touch any key evoked all of the above. Switching off and on again did nothing to improve matters, so I F Disked and reinstalled XP. All OK for a while then I got a Trojan containing more filth. This time my new Anti-virus programme kicked in and quarantined the lot. Next, I downloaded SP2 - blue screens every few minutes!!!!! F disked again and this time SP2 went in OK. I shifted to Firefox (new to me then), and Thunderbird. Since then I have not looked back. Oh yes, I did try Linux on my previous machine (now five years old) but found I couldn't control the myriad interface screens which, with no provocation, kept sliding off to the right to be replaced with yet another interface - and so on ad nauseum. Back to Windows 98, Firefox and Thunderbird - no more problems.

    Sorry to go on........!
    1000044543
  • Cars Are For Driving... Computers Are For Life; There Is No Comparison

    Yet again, we're not talking about cars and simple products. Look beyond the brand!

    We're talking about learning tools, leisure tools, business tools - things that are invading culture more than cars ever did! Microsoft has a social responsibility towards accessibility of information and interoperability of devices for the future of.....well everyone!

    This is no longer big-brand politics, this is our lives, our civilisation. Windows is in schools, it runs businesses, hospitals and libraries. It is foolish to compare Microsoft's closed minded approach to standards and choice to the petty feuding of Car Manufacturers.

    The European Courts have come down like a ton of bricks on Microsoft because they realise the impact it has upon our lives and our first footsteps into this new digital age. Before child-labour laws people said "if kids want to climb and clean chimneys; let them". Now we consider that cruel exploitation.

    Soon laws will prevent megacorporations from limiting accessibility and choice and restore good old-fashioned competition. Maybe then people will understand that what Microsoft is doing now is just not fair-play. Microsoft's economic, social and political power is felt everywhere, the same cannot be said of Honda, Ford, GM or BMW.
    leytonjay
  • Microsuffocation

    Hey 1000044543!

    What's it tell you about MS? With all those billions and billions and billions, why can't they have gotten it right after all these years or is it all part of their perpetual incremental revenue stream plan? I thought MS employed some of the greatest minds known to computing! Is anyone there responsible? What if it was a child sitting at the computer when the deluge began? What if it affected the poor little child's mind forever?

    MS created the desktop computer, I'll give them that! But to abandon the completion of the system to the extent they have is beyond me. I just don't get it? Perhaps they've lost their way? Perhaps they're too busy chasing the competition rather than leading? Or perhaps they've just become too big, too complex or too complacent and self assured to give a damn?

    Whatever the case, what's it mean for the future of MS operating PC's throughout the planet?

    I ask you this: If a company built a road network that continually collapsed or a electricity company sent power to the wrong home or business, or a telco mistakenly re-directed all calls to the wrong people or worse still, allowed the kind of content you received to flood our communications - all hell would break loose! There HAS to be some level of responsibility for inculcating practically the entire world with an operating system that is rife with problems and may actually be a threat to the future? What if something were to occur where most of the computers in the world collapsed? Who would be responsible? Is there some impartial technically competent industry body that conducts a threat analysis on software systems that reach a particular crital mass in order to determine what to do should a major event occur? Does anyone actually know the consequences of a global software collapse? Hey, I'm not into the doom and gloom apocalyptic scenarios by any stretch of the imagination, its just that the more I think about it...well...hey...shouldn't you require some kind of license to 'operate' a software system that reaches a state of ubiquity?

    TFD
    thinkfeeldo2001
  • RESPONSE

    'Microsoft's products are now ubiquitous in our society and with great power comes great responsibility!'

    Microsuffocation

    What's it tell you about MS? With all those billions and billions and billions, why can't they have gotten it right after all these years or is it all part of their perpetual incremental revenue stream plan? I thought MS employed some of the greatest minds known to computing! Is anyone there responsible? What if it was a child sitting at the computer when the deluge began? What if it affected the poor little child's mind forever?

    MS created the desktop computer, I'll give them that! But to abandon the completion of the system to the extent they have is beyond me. I just don't get it? Perhaps they've lost their way? Perhaps they're too busy chasing the competition rather than leading? Or perhaps they've just become too big, too complex or too complacent and self assured to give a damn?

    Whatever the case, what's it mean for the future of MS operating PC's throughout the planet?

    I ask you this: If a company built a road network that continually collapsed or a electricity company sent power to the wrong home or business, or a telco mistakenly re-directed all calls to the wrong people or worse still, allowed the kind of content you received to flood our communications - all hell would break loose! There HAS to be some level of responsibility for inculcating practically the entire world with an operating system that is rife with problems and may actually be a threat to the future? What if something were to occur where most of the computers in the world collapsed? Who would be responsible? Is there some impartial technically competent industry body that conducts a threat analysis on software systems that reach a particular crital mass in order to determine what to do should a major event occur? Does anyone actually know the consequences of a global software collapse? Hey, I'm not into the doom and gloom apocalyptic scenarios by any stretch of the imagination, its just that the more I think about it...well...hey...shouldn't you require some kind of license to 'operate' a software system that reaches a state of ubiquity?

    TFD
    thinkfeeldo2001
  • JUST 4 THE RECORD

    Let it be known that I have no animosity toward any software company anywhere in the world whatsoever. I am just giving consideration to the systems and models themselves. Furthermore, I have never been an employee of microsoft or any of its competitors.

    TFD
    thinkfeeldo2001
  • Great comment!

    Very well put! Hope your succinct comment transcends this site/ forum and makes its way to many more throughout the webisphere.

    Cheers,

    TFD
    thinkfeeldo2001
  • Best response I've ever read

    Thank you very much. Your remark says it all in a short, very clear and sober language.

    It should be mandatory reading for politicians all over the world.
    Bjorn Thrane
  • Everyone knows

    Everyone knows M$ is a trust. But what we can do? File him or kill him? It's not good for all.

    I believe the regulation, but the technology should be the power.

    William Peterson
    Presentation Fanatic
    <a href="http://community.zdnet.co.uk/blog/0,1000000567,2000453931b,00.htm">http://community.zdnet.co.uk/blog/0,1000000567,2000453931b,00.htm</a>
    Mr.William.Peterson@...
  • deleting IE: the normal way aka uninstalling

    Go to control panel
    Add remove programmes
    then look on the left for add remove windows components.
    Then look for IE (about the 4th one down) and click through to uninstall.
    matthewpeet@...
  • Bundling

    The issue is not necesarily with Microsoft. Its with the hardware manufactures (OEM's) who ship the vast majority of PC's.
    They bundle all kinds of additional software with the operating system, that they thinnkk will make their user experience better/easier. For example; look at Sony for their Spiderman 3 film promotion by including trailers of it and themes on their laptops.

    OEM's should bundle Firefox and Opera. The real questions are:
    Why do they not see the point?
    Are they being pressured by MS to not do this?
    Do they not see any value in doing so?
    Are they being pressured by consumers who dont want to spend and extra
    matthewpeet@...
  • Uninstalling IE (or anything for that matter).

    Thanks Mattp, but that was the first thing I did. Trouble is, when I did a search the dog found forty-leven files with reference to IE. Same with OE. When I tried to delete the 'found' files I got the usual MS raspberry, 'Windows cannot remove this file. It is being used by another programme. Close that programme and try again.' Didn't say what that programme might be, but I suspect it is IE and/or OE, although I had removed it via Control Panel. Vicious circle!
    1000044543