opera calls for ec investigation of microsoft

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I'm a little behind on news the last 24 hours, but as I'm catching up, I see there's quite a bit of commentary on the topic of Opera's call for an EC investigation of Microsoft for bundling IE and not supporting Web standards.

I may have missed some articles because I'm only pulling from the sources that mention Firefox or Mozilla where my real interests lie. But what's most surprising to me is the hostility towards Opera and this complaint.

Here are a few of the articles that I've read today:

BetaNews - Out of options, Opera files EU antitrust against Microsoft "Opera has struggled against Microsoft's Internet Explorer, only managing a little over a half percent worldwide market share compared to IE's 77% in November, according to NetApplications. The browser is also falling further behind fellow alternative browser Firefox which now has 16 percent of the market, so filing an antitrust complaint seems like a last ditch effort."

Mashable - Opera To EU: Boo-Hoo, Microsoft Is Evil "The question is: why now? I reckon it's just free publicity, but maybe the folks at Opera know something I don't."

Inside Edge - Opera starts throwing rocks at Microsoft "To be honest it all sounds more than a little desperate to me. Some might point out that Firefox has managed to compete rather well with Microsoft, with market share of around 25% in some regions, something Opera has never got close to. And Firefox does take the standards compliant route. So what is Opera doing wrong that prevents it from being a power player in the web browser world and forces it to adopt a position of throwing rocks instead? Could it be, quite simply, that it just isn't as good a browser as either Firefox or Internet Explorer?"

The Guardian - Opera makes anti-trust complaint against IE, rekindling the spirit of 1998"If you enjoyed the last century's IE anti-trust cases in the US, Opera could help you relive the experience in Europe.... Still, you have to wonder whose fault it is when Opera can only get a market share of 0.65%"

Wired - Opera Software Tattles on Microsoft to European Commission "It's not clear, though, that we really need Opera to speak on our behalf. Even if Microsoft is a big bully, why does Mozilla Firefox continue to steal share away from Microsoft if it's if it's so difficult for other software makers to break into the browser market?"

The Machinist - Opera's misguided antitrust charges against Microsoft "Opera's latest innovation -- an antitrust charge -- leaves me skeptical."

Ars Technica - Opera tries to force IE into W3C compliance with EU complaint; Firefox's success may work against it "The state of competition in the browser market may actually work against Opera's complaint, however. Since its 1.0 release in November 2004, Firefox has gone from a blip on the browser radar to double-digit market share...Europe, in particular, has become something of a stronghold for Firefox. As of July 2007, Firefox has surpassed 40 percent market share in three EU member nations...The open-source browser is also well above the 30 percent mark in other EU nations....Firefox has managed its surge in popularity without the benefit of bundling agreements (and there's no reason why Opera can't negotiate agreements of its own) and in the same competitive environment that Opera has faced...."

Tech.Blorg - New Browser War: Opera sues Microsoft "I don't see how Microsoft can ship an OS without a browser so getting them to unpack IE would be hard to justify. It's the onus on Opera, really, to get people to be more aware of the existence of other browsers besides IE."

BloggingStocks - Microsoft may suffer from European Opera performance "Users of Microsoft Windows may be surprised to learn that they have a third alternative for an internet browser beyond Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. The Opera browser has been around since 1994, a product of the Norwegian telecom industry, which claims to be an equal to the big two in speed and security. However, its use has been minuscule, around 1% by some estimates."

TechDirt - Antitrust Law Is Supposed To Protect Consumers, Not Competitors "I don't know much about European antitrust law, but it's a little hard to take Opera's policy argument seriously. Mozilla has reported that Firefox's market share is 28 percent in Europe, a number that has been growing steadily for most of this decade...As far as I can see, there's nothing stopping consumers who are dissatisfied with Internet Explorer from downloading Firefox, Safari, or Opera. Indeed, a quarter of European Internet users have done just that. Perhaps the money Opera is currently sending on lawyers would be better spent on figuring out why Mozilla has been so much more successful than Opera at attracting new users."

DownloadSquad - Opera files complaint against Microsoft with European Commission "Opera wants Microsoft to either unbundle IE and Windows or to bundle alternative web browsers as well as Internet Explorer. As for the supporting standards bit, are you serious? "

By-Expression - Losing Respect for Opera "For a long time I have been an Opera user. I have licensed PAID versions back to either Opera 3 or Opera 4 all the way through the current version 9 but today I lost respect for the Opera company...What I want to do is set-up my computer with the applications I use and nothing else. I do NOT want more crap pre-installed on my computer, keep your legislative hands off!"

SiliconValley.com - Opera vs. Microsoft: Didn't the fat lady already sing this one? "And, hey, if the Firefox folks can grab 16 percent of the browser share with a good product and a vibrant community, then what's Opera's real problem?"

ZdNet's All About Microsoft - Why Opera's antitrust complaint against Microsoft is a bad idea "With Firefox, Mozilla has proved you don't need government intervention to wrest a substantial percentage of the browser market from Microsoft."

ValleyWag - Opera's drama-queen antitrust lawsuit "Opera Software, maker of a feature-laden but forgotten Web browser, is complaining to the European Commission about Microsoft's Internet Explorer....This smells like a publicity stunt meant to remind people Opera still exists."

Tech Law Prof Blog - Opera Files Antitrust Complaint with the EU Over IE Bundling "This is honestly a case of failed marketers seeking refuge in the apron of regulators. It's hard to see a problem when Firefox has a market share somewhere in the mid 20s. Where were they three years ago? Somewhere outside of Oslo even the elk are laughing, and Norway's neighbors to the east are Borking it up."

The Inquirer - Microsoft and Opera are both right "Opera hasn't made it as a rival browser in the way that Firefox or even Safari has, which makes its claims sound a bit shrill and late in the day."

Matt Assay's The Open Road - Opera, Microsoft, and competition: A plea for an end to the whining " Opera failed to mention that other browsers like Firefox are doing just fine. Instead, it wants to turn its failure to be relevant into a case of victimhood. My heart bleeds for Opera.... Could it be that Opera emasculated its own efforts long ago by trying to sell a browser into a market that had decided that browsers are free?....Opera doesn't need the EC to wring a few Euros out of Microsoft for it. It should focus on competing for customers, not on regulating its way into relevance."

31 Comments

I think it may be a lot of things. It is publicity, I'd say it's brave especially given the feedback you've posted which I doubt would be unforeseen. It's a call to a sizeable minority, web developers. A call which I think would have had more traction prior to IE7 but may still be very compelling. A good call if it works because you already don't have the mass market and the developer market is a useful niche. They make the sites.

Also the more I think and I wasn't convinced to start with. The more just it seems.

For those that moan about them being drama queens and about them not having done enough themselves. These people are saying it's a free market and it's not Microsoft's fault. However it's not a proper free market without one of the corner stones of that system. Competition. MS do have a monopolistic stranglehold on the majority of the market. Leveraging that is anti-competitive and breaks all that's good about the free market system. Most countries have laws against monopolies for that very reason.

As for standards support I'm all for it but I'm not sure you should enforce that (though I want the end result.) in a software.

The articles claim that Firefox's market share indicates that IE is not to blame for Opera's tiny slice of the browser market...

The fact is, Internet Explorer's massive market share - even compared to Firefox's healthy 20%-ish share - cannot be explained by IE's "quality". There is another factor involved, and it's about time someone called Microsoft out on it.

I happen to be an Opera user myself, but if the Mozilla Foundation did this I would be cheering just as much. This is a fantastic news for the makers of standards-compliant browsers. It's even better news for web developers, who may not have to code around IE's crappiness anymore. But most of all, it's a big win for users who will discover that there are non-crappy browsers out there - such as Firefox, Safari, and Opera - that make the Internet a lot more fun. And even if the lawsuit doesn't work out the way it should, it's still good publicity for web standards and quality browsers.

Asa, thanks for standing up for Opera here. I hope all of our favorite browsers get a lot more users because of this ;-)

"This is a fantastic news for the makers of standards-compliant browsers."

The problem is that, as some people have pointed out, nothing will change. MS may produce a version of windows without IE and say "look, it isn't selling" (cos we're charging the same amount of money...). And surely there's no way the EC can force MS to be "standards compliant", right?

"And surely there's no way the EC can force MS to be "standards compliant", right?"

Why not?

Also, remember: "And even if the lawsuit doesn't work out the way it should, it's still good publicity for web standards and quality browsers."

"It's even better news for web developers, who may not have to code around IE's crappiness anymore."

Well, at best, IE8 will be compliant, or at least comparable to current versions of Opera, Firefox and Safari. That's probably at least a year out, plus we still have to get people to move away from IE6 (Judging by the IE5 to IE6 transition, it'll probably take a total of 3 years until we can safely ignore it), plus we'll still have to move all the IE7 users up to IE8 or off to alternatives.

I think we're looking at 2010, here.

Then we'd better get started now ;)

[quote]The fact is, Internet Explorer's massive market share - even compared to Firefox's healthy 20%-ish share - cannot be explained by IE's "quality". There is another factor involved, and it's about time someone called Microsoft out on it.[/quote]

Just what I was thinking. I can't really see how they can use Firefox numbers as an argument against this. If they agree on the fact that Firefox is a better alternative than IE, then they have to agree there is something wrong when IE numbers are still that much higher.

Why can't they see this as a golden opportunity to end this? And if not end it completely, at least get closer to the ideal web. A web where everything "just works". Firefox, Safari and Opera should work together on this, not against each other. This might very well be the chance to "take the web back" as Firefox users like to put it.


- �� -

Some people are asking "why now", and the reason is simple:

The chance is now that the EU is investigating Microsoft. If it isn't done now, this opportunity will be gone forever and Microsoft can continue doing its thing.

Here is H�kon Wium Lie's (Opera CTO) personal statement on this:

http://people.opera.com/howcome/2007/msft/

Agreed. Sure, Opera stands to gain something out of this, but it's no more than Mozilla stand to gain, or Webkit. Regardless of whether you have a lingering paranoia that 'business reasons' might be behind the move, the outcome is something we all want to push for - more consistent implementations, a less broken web. This is a call out to all our open-standards-advocating brethren to stand up and be counted!

"The fact is, Internet Explorer's massive market share - even compared to Firefox's healthy 20%-ish share - cannot be explained by IE's "quality". There is another factor involved, and it's about time someone called Microsoft out on it."
-@David Bloom
Yes. Exactly!

Also, for whatever reason, be it SpreadFirefox / the FOSS community / Google pulling for it, Firefox experienced a crazy surge in users. The fact is, as David points out (and Opera's CTO, on http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/microsoft/archives/127699.asp), marketshare has NOT been a function of features or quality. That's what Wium Lie wants to change: "Q: Some of the blogs this morning have said that this seems to be not a reaction to Microsoft anticompetitive conduct but to, they're saying, Opera's inability to compete in the marketplace on its own merits. How would you respond to that?

Wium Lie: Well, we are a very successful company. We have grown from the start in 1995 we have grown to be 400 people, and we only have one product, the browser. We deliver browsers for all sorts of devices: phones, game consoles, and the desktop. And we're successful in doing so. However, on the Windows desktop, it has proven to be very, very difficult, and we believe that's not because of merit. We don't think 80 percent of users use IE because it's so good. We don't think it is a very good browser. We think we should be able to compete on merit. We want fair competition."

Go Opera.

"The fact is, Internet Explorer's massive market share - even compared to Firefox's healthy 20%-ish share - cannot be explained by IE's "quality". There is another factor involved, and it's about time someone called Microsoft out on it."
-@David Bloom
Yes. Exactly!

Also, for whatever reason, be it SpreadFirefox / the FOSS community / Google pulling for it, Firefox experienced a crazy surge in users. The fact is, as David points out (and Opera's CTO, on http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/microsoft/archives/127699.asp), marketshare has NOT been a function of features or quality. That's what Wium Lie wants to change: "Q: Some of the blogs this morning have said that this seems to be not a reaction to Microsoft anticompetitive conduct but to, they're saying, Opera's inability to compete in the marketplace on its own merits. How would you respond to that?

Wium Lie: Well, we are a very successful company. We have grown from the start in 1995 we have grown to be 400 people, and we only have one product, the browser. We deliver browsers for all sorts of devices: phones, game consoles, and the desktop. And we're successful in doing so. However, on the Windows desktop, it has proven to be very, very difficult, and we believe that's not because of merit. We don't think 80 percent of users use IE because it's so good. We don't think it is a very good browser. We think we should be able to compete on merit. We want fair competition."

Go Opera.

I apologize for double-posting. The first time, I got an error message. Asa, feel free to delete one.

Firefox has the power of open source, all the enthusiasm that brings, and a very good revenue stream. Microsoft has the power of monopoly and virtually unlimited resources. Opera has none of these.

How could anyone blame Opera for this? They deserve tremendous respect for building an excellent browser at a time when their opposition was giving away software. And in terms of security and standards compliance, they clearly beat the giant.

Mozilla has done well, but it is not enough. It has been extremely expensive and time-consuming to move IE down a few %.

And even 70-80% market share allows Microsoft to continue to ruin the web. And they are actively trying, for example by killing EcmaScript 4 (to replace it with C#/Silverlight):

http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/roadmap/archives/2007/10/open_letter_to_chris_wilson.html

https://mail.mozilla.org/pipermail/es4-discuss/2007-October/001309.html

Asa is a hypocrite and always try to fight people than supporting them. He always takes the negative aspect when the positive is clearly visible. This post is such an example.

@ "Anonymouse": Yes, your post is such an example, but as it was posted by you it doesn't really count ;)


Anyway I wish Opera the best of luck in this. Having an even playing field benefits everyone, except the ones who were abusing it before. And honestly, who cares what happens to them?

If anyone around here still uses Facebook, a group has been set up so you can show your support for Opera's actions, whether you use that browser or not. I would love to see some more Mozilla users there! I think it's time to make sure that some of the negative assumptions being made are balanced with a public display of support.

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=7862205694

Those articles don't sound very well-informed or fair--not exactly what I'd call "quality journalism." Nonetheless, thanks Asa for the post. Is Mozilla in favor of Opera in this situation, or is Mozilla sitting on the sidelines for this one?

I think Opera made a stupid action.
Also, in the CTO open letter they say they are complaining about the lack of support of web standards and, then, for the monopoly prolem, while the official complaint is almost only about the monopoly problem.
I wrote my thoughts on my blog:
Sick of Opera - http://codeclimber.net.nz/archive/2007/12/17/Sick-of-Opera.aspx

Simone, I am not sure if your comment is meant to be a joke or not, but the "monopoly problem" is *the* problem here. If Microsoft hadn't abused its market position to prevent competition, there would not be a problem. If IE had been standards compliant, it would not have been anti-competitive.

But hey, looks like you have made up your mind beforehand, regardless of facts...

@JackInTheBoc: Why Mozilla never filed a complaint for the market position of IE but still gained 30% of the market share? And why is Opere doing it now, when they are strong on the mobile world but not so strong in the desktop one?

"The fact is, Internet Explorer's massive market share - even compared to Firefox's healthy 20%-ish share - cannot be explained by IE's "quality". There is another factor involved, and it's about time someone called Microsoft out on it."

This factor could just be that most users of a computer couldn't give a monkey's nut what browser they use, most don't even know what a browser is, they just 'use the internet'. Until this changes (which it never will, only geeks care about such things), ie will reign supreme. making ms remove thi will have no effect. How many people complaining about this here bought a copy of xp-n? How many people here even know what that is? And this is the geek crowd!

Normal users have never heard of it and don't have any interest in it, and won't have in ieless windows. MS Will just release ie on cd with every new computer. Pay oems to install an installer icon (like norton and the others). Even if you were given a choice, what choice would you give? Opera? Firefox? What about the hundreads of others out there? What happens if someone wants Opera? Will there be apopup window asking users if they also want to install IE to use Windows Update or hotmail live? Users will just decide to get ie. What about if somone wants an IE frontend? You'd also then have to install ie too, plus most people will just click on the ie icon they know.

@JackInTheBoc: Why Mozilla never filed a complaint for the market position of IE but still gained 30% of the market share? And why is Opere doing it now, when they are strong on the mobile world but not so strong in the desktop one?

They don't have 30% They have less than 10%.

Why Mozilla never filed a complaint for the market position of IE but still gained 30% of the market share?
False. Firefox has about 15% globally. You aren't seriously suggesting that if IE and Firefox were to compete on equal terms, Firefox would have a mere 15%, while IE would have 80%?
And why is Opere doing it now, when they are strong on the mobile world but not so strong in the desktop one?
Because Microsoft impedes competition in the desktop market.

JackInTheBoX, Firefox (gecko) has about 20% global usage share, and about 30% in Europe where Opera has filed this complaint.

That's not to say that we wouldn't be double or triple that number if there was a level playing field, but there's no need to shortchange Firefox's gains against IE to make that point.

- A

Firefox, Safari, and Opera (and even iCab for that matter) are all superior to IE in standards compliance and user experience. Quite frankly, there is no need to bicker about the market share distribution among those 3 browsers. The fact is, IE has 70-80% of the market, and the other browsers are all better, so that's not right.

You don't need to cite any market share except for IE's to make this argument.

Most people who talk about the benefits of capitalism and free markets have no idea about the caveats involved.

I've been an Opera fan, bugs and all, since version 3.61 back around 1998. I absolutely loathe IE, and I find Firefox is almost as bad. If they weren't trying to outdo IE in the bells-and-whistles department, it wouldn't be so bad.

Opera claims to be the fastest browser in the universe. This is true. Switching tabs and going back and forth is pretty well instantaneous. This really adds up in a marathon browsing session. Opera works in a much more intuitive way than IE, which has stubbornly retained its counterintuitivity (is that really a word?) all the way through.

I think that Opera's real failing is that, while being fairly open, it is still proprietary. They have to make some money from it somehow, or they will go under. Firefox has the unbounded enthusiasm of the open-source community behind it, which is very significant. Opera has much of the open-source spirit, but they still have to run a business. I don't know what is the answer for Opera, but 1% or less market share for such an excellent browser is very saddening.

I've been an Opera fan, bugs and all, since version 3.61 back around 1998. I absolutely loathe IE, and I find Firefox is almost as bad. If they weren't trying to outdo IE in the bells-and-whistles department, it wouldn't be so bad.

Opera claims to be the fastest browser in the universe. This is true. Switching tabs and going back and forth is pretty well instantaneous. This really adds up in a marathon browsing session. Opera works in a much more intuitive way than IE, which has stubbornly retained its counterintuitivity (is that really a word?) all the way through.

I think that Opera's real failing is that, while being fairly open, it is still proprietary. They have to make some money from it somehow, or they will go under. Firefox has the unbounded enthusiasm of the open-source community behind it, which is very significant. Opera has much of the open-source spirit, but they still have to run a business. I don't know what is the answer for Opera, but 1% or less market share for such an excellent browser is very saddening.

I like how you write.Are you fascinating in a component time writer job?

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