December 14, 2007
Opera Files Antitrust Complaint with the EU Over IE Bundling
Norwegian software maker Opera has filed a formal complaint against Microsoft with the European Commission over Microsoft's bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows. They also want Microsoft to use more standardized technologies so that products from third parties can interoperate with its Internet software. The article in Information Week quotes Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner as saying "We are filing this complaint on behalf of all consumers who are tired of having a monopolist make choices for them." There are marches in the streets of Europe by indignant citizens over a wide range of issues, but Internet Explorer technology tied to Windows is likely not one of them.
So lets assume that Microsoft decides to sell a version of Vista without a pre-installed browser. History tells us that the version of Windows without Media Player (Windows N) was a market non-starter in Europe. The Commission got what it wanted legally but as a practical matter no one who bought Windows cared to affect the media player software market. A version of Windows without a browser would be even less of an attraction because without a browser, how would one acquire a different browser? Opera wants Microsoft to carry alternative browsers in their package. Even the U.S. courts rejected that one as a remedy during the antitrust litigation. I suppose Opera could flood consumers with CDs as AOL did with their ISP subscription software. That ought to get them noticed, at least by comedians, past their 0.99% market share.
In this case Microsoft is quite right to note that consumers can download and set any browser as the default on their machine. Choice extends to media players, IM clients, mail clients, calendars and a variety of other Internet based software. Anyone can ignore Microsoft software bundled with the operating system. And what about other operating systems? The Mac OS and Linux have bundled browsers. What about them?
The other argument that Opera raises is that Internet Explorer doesn't follow web standards well enough for Opera to compete with Internet Explorer. The case that Microsoft recently lost on appeal had to do with protocols within Windows that Microsoft would not document for third party developers to integrate their software effectively with the OS. Web standards come from somewhere else than Microsoft. Moreover, they tend to be in flux. Opera should find the fact that their browser does conform to established standards as a marketing plus for them, assuming consumers cared enough. Apparently consumers don't. 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.
December 14, 2007 | Permalink
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Opera Files Antitrust Complaint with the EU Over IE Bundling: