Opera Files Antitrust Suit Against Microsoft

closeThis post was published 11 years 11 months 6 days ago. A number of changes have been made to the site since then, so please contact me if anything is broken or seems wrong.

OK, I swear I won’t take anything else verbatim from my source article other than the title. Kudos to James Niccolai for coming up with such a hot headline!

That said, I’ll get down to business. Opera Software, the Norwegian maker of the alternative Opera browser, has filed an antitrust suit against Microsoft in the European Union. The suit accuses Microsoft of stifling competition by bundling Internet Explorer with Windows and not following accepted industry standards within that browser.

As my friend i80and pointed out earlier today, something similar happened with Netscape about five years ago. Microsoft ended up paying $750,000,000 to settle the suit with Netscape, which was by then owned by AOL. Also included in the settlement was a seven-year, royalty-free license to use Internet Explorer technology.

Back to today’s issue, Opera’s complaint reasons that by not following standards, Microsoft is hindering interoperability, because Web developers and designers will program their sites to work in the most widely-used browser. Thanks to Microsoft’s bundling over the years, that browser is Internet Explorer, heretofore and hereafter referred to as The Bane of Every Web Developer (or Suckernet Exploder for short).

The fact that IE renders sites differently from all the other browsers I’ve tested on has caused hours of troubleshooting work for me alone. Not to mention, each version’s rendering changes slightly, requiring multiple stylesheets with layout fixes specific to the IE version in use. That doesn’t even address the vastly different JavaScript methods used in IE, which cause countless headaches for all kinds of people. The fact that XMLHttpRequest() is, in IE, an ActiveX control means the simple call to the standard function (in all non-Microsoft browsers) must be turned into a twelve-line try-catch statement to not only allow for IE’s different method, but make sure to use the right version of IE’s method, as there are two different versions.

The European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS) says it strongly endorses Opera’s complaint.

“By tying its Internet Explorer product to its monopoly Windows operating system and refusing to faithfully implement industry accepted open standards, Microsoft deprives consumers of a real choice in internet browsers. Browsers are the gateway to the internet. Microsoft seeks to control this gateway,” said Thomas Vinje, an ECIS spokesman.

The complaint bears some similarities to the 2004 ruling concerning the bundling of Windows Media Player. Microsoft was forced to sell a second version of Windows, sans-WMP, but priced it at the same amount as regular Windows. It was no surprise that the second version, dubbed “Edition N”, didn’t sell.

I personally hope that the ongoing antitrust problems Microsoft has been having in the European Union will percolate through to the United States and help reduce usage of Internet Explorer the world over. For now, time will tell if Opera’s lawsuit is to bring any benefits to the world’s general population.

dgw

I am an avid technology and software user, in addition to being reasonably well-versed in CSS, JavaScript, HTML, PHP, Python, and (though it still scares me) Perl. Aside from my technological tendencies, I am also a theatre technician, sound designer, violinist, singer, and actor.

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