Opera Software has filed an antitrust complaint against Microsoft in the European Union, accusing it of stifling competition by tying its Internet Explorer Web browser to Windows, Opera Software said Thursday. The complaint, IDG News Service reports, which was filed with the European Commission on Wednesday, sounds familiar. It accuses Microsoft of abusing its dominant position in the desktop PC market by bundling Internet Explorer with Windows. This, Opera Software says, hinders adoption of competitive browsers. Opera wants the Commission to force Microsoft to either unbundle IE from Windows, or include other browsers as a standard part of its operating system. (Didn't we hear all of this from Netscape back in 1999 , and again in 2002?)
The bundling of IE with Windows also hinders interoperability between Websites and browsers. IE is not forced to follow accepted standards, but can force Web developers to program to its quirks. Because IE owns nearly 80% of the browser market, Web developers have little choice (and sometimes little motivation) but to focus on creating Websites that display well in IE. In the filing, Opera asked the Commission to force Microsoft to adhere to industry standards with its Web browser.
The filing comes on the heels of last week's firestorm surrounding IE7 and IE8. Last week, a group of bloggers put Bill Gates on the spot over IE's lack of interoperability and direction. See also: What users (and Web developers) hate about IE7
However, users are finding Opera's moves to be reactionary and whiney. Comments on the Network World site indicate that users have no interoperability problems downloading Opera to their Windows PCs. Plus, of course, we've all heard this song before. Opera Software launched itself into a post-Netscape era, where Microsoft had already lost the antitrust browser battle with the U.S. government but won the market share war. Still, users are confused as to why Opera is blaming Microsoft for incompatibility. Says one reader: "In less time than it takes to read their complaint, I am able to download, install, and run Opera without any problems. What exactly are they complaining about?"
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Julie Bort is the editor of Microsoft Subnet and Network World's Online Community Editor. She also writes the Open Source Subnet blog and is the editor responsible for the Cisco Subnet and Open Source Subnet web sites. If you have an idea for a blog, or a news tip on Microsoft, Cisco or Open Source technologies, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, 970-482-6454 or follow Julie on Twitter @Julie188.
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