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Opera Chief Technology Officer and co-inventor of CSS, Håkon Wium Lie has written an open letter to the Web community explaining the reasons that Opera has filed an antitrust complaint with the European Union to force Microsoft to support open Web standards in Internet Explorer and to unbundle Internet Explorer from Windows and/or carry alternative browsers pre-installed on the desktop.

Their press release says

Opera requests the Commission to implement two remedies to Microsoft’s abusive actions. First, it requests the Commission to obligate Microsoft to unbundle Internet Explorer from Windows and/or carry alternative browsers pre-installed on the desktop. Second, it asks the European Commission to require Microsoft to follow fundamental and open Web standards accepted by the Web-authoring communities. The complaint calls on Microsoft to adhere to its own public pronouncements to support these standards, instead of stifling them with its notorious “Embrace, Extend and Extinguish” strategy. Microsoft’s unilateral control over standards in some markets creates 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.

Your Replies

#1 On December 13th, 2007 3:40 pm Bruce Lawson’s personal site  : Opera complains to Europe over IE lock-in replied:

[...] I wrote this up an the Web Standards Project page, so please comment there. What I didn’t say there, which I will say here is Go Opera! Go Opera! Go Opera!. [...]

#2 On December 13th, 2007 3:57 pm Fyrd replied:

What I didn’t say there, which I will say here is Go Opera! Go Opera! Go Opera!

It’s interesting how you can say something without actually saying it…using pingbacks. Nice going there, Bruce. :)

#3 On December 13th, 2007 4:04 pm Vectorpedia replied:

I applaud Opera for taking on Microsoft. Its about time. The European Court of First Instance confirmed in September that Microsoft has illegally tied Windows Media Player to Windows. Opera has long held the position of innovator in the Web browser market, having introduced and pioneered features like tabbed browsing, Speed Dial, integrated search bar, mouse gestures.

#4 On December 13th, 2007 4:57 pm Cole Henley replied:

While they’re at it can they take Microsoft to the European Court of Human Rights for lte IE 6?
;)

#5 On December 13th, 2007 6:00 pm Neal replied:

I don’t see the legality of suing MS over web standards. The W3C isn’t the law. I do however understand their resoning for suing because IE comes installed on Windows. MS will have a difficult time now that IE7 isn’t embedded into Windows like IE6 was.

Doesn’t OSX come installed with Safari and numerous other software?

Linux comes pre-installed with software too. Hmm…..

#6 On December 13th, 2007 7:58 pm Oraganic » Opera complains to Europe over IE lock-in replied:

[...] Organic placed an interesting blog post on Opera complains to Europe over IE lock-inHere’s a brief overview [...]

#7 On December 13th, 2007 8:17 pm johnnysaucepn replied:

They’re not suing, they’re filing a complaint – don’t ask me the legal details, but there is a difference!

And it’s not so much that MS isn’t allowing anyone to install alternate browsers, but that they’re using that in-built market share to make standards-compliant browsers less attractive to users, (the old ‘IE has the largest marketshare, we have to develop for it first, the others get a look-in if we have the time and money’ problem).

Linux and OSX provide browsers that are standards-compliant and not holding back the progress of the web.

#8 On December 13th, 2007 11:40 pm hoopskier replied:

Interesting to note that Firefox has enjoyed increasing market share despite Microsoft’s “abusive actions” and “stifling” of standards. Opera needs to take a page out of Firefox’s book, not whine about Microsoft.

#9 On December 14th, 2007 3:09 am Gérard Talbot replied:

Hello W3C web standards colleagues and friends,

I have sent an email to Håkon Wium Lie giving my full and unconditional support to his official compliant . Yes, Microsoft should be forced to support open W3C Web standards in Internet Explorer and Internet Explorer should be unbundlable from Windows.

I think webstandards.org and web standards promoters, supporters should all do the same.

We should all be united behind this complaint.

Regards,

Gérard Talbot

#10 On December 14th, 2007 4:34 am Andy Clarke replied:

From my follow up post:
“Following Opera’s action, today I am calling on Bert Bos, chairman of the CSS Working Group, and those higher up within the W3C including Sir Tim Berners Lee, to immediately disband the CSS Working Group in its current form. I am asking for immediate action to be taken on the formulation of a replacement CSS Working Group that will include new members who are not the representatives of browser vendors.”

#11 On December 14th, 2007 6:56 am Marat replied:

I’m feel happy :)

#12 On December 14th, 2007 7:43 am johnnysaucepn replied:

hoopskier, sure FF has done a good job of leveraging their advantages and their community. But how much faster would FF have caught on in the early days if IE had been progressive about the standards that Mozilla insisted on? How many more corporate sites would be using FF now, instead of standardising on IE? Mozilla stands to gain as much, if not more, from this than Opera.

#13 On December 14th, 2007 8:52 am nehmo replied:

“Interesting to note that Firefox has enjoyed increasing market share despite Microsoft’s “abusive actions” and “stifling” of standards.”

MSIE still commands more than 80% of the browser market, and that is after billions of dollars and many years have been spent on trying to make a dent. Microsoft’s behavior has cost everyone big money, including alternative browser vendors and web developers.

That MSIE still has nearly 90% of the market tells you that things are still broken.

#14 On December 14th, 2007 12:39 pm hoopskier replied:

“But how much faster would FF have caught on in the early days if IE had been progressive about the standards that Mozilla insisted on?”

If MS would have had better standards support all along… then there’d be less people using Firefox. Poor standards support is a reason that many people (especially web developers) use Firefox instead of IE. Take away that, and there’s less reason to use Firefox.

Regardless of how you feel about the bundling issue (take a look at the virtually zero sales of the Media Player-less “N” editions), the government is in no place to “force” a company to follow a standard that was largely written by a set of competitors. Government-written standards (like safety regulations for cars) are a totally different story.

So, who decides which standards are important enough? Do they have to be “final”, which even CSS 2.1 isn’t? This would set a terrible precedent not just for the technology industry, but in other industries as well. Name me *one* other industry wherein a private non-government group can write a recommendation, and where the government legally forces the market leader to follow those recommendations.

#15 On December 14th, 2007 1:01 pm Martijn ten Napel replied:

Filing a complaint about bundeling IE6 with Windowsas , compared with Windows Media Player is something I can understand from a competitive point of view.

However, complaining that Microsoft is not supporting standards the right way is rather strange, since there is no actual law implementing those standards and making it compulsory.

Within Europe there isn’t even one standard for electrical plugs and sockets. The question is if the Internet should be regulated, including the adherence to any standard. I, for one, would rather see no law than a ‘standards’ law, because once we allow that the Internet will be broken apart within years by different lawmaking institutions in different countries. The freedom of the Internet makes it even hard for countries that DO have laws for the Internet to regulate it properly (think fo China for instance).

From a competitive viewpoint it is more interesting to see if a free version of a browser, tied to a specific operating systems is indeed ‘free’ and not an effective barrier for entrance to other browser vendors, as a company or a consumer I do not have the freedom to buy Windows without IE and pay less for it (nor do I have that freedom with Mac OSX for that matter).

IF anyone has to call upon Microsoft it should be its clients, big corporations and banks who should tell Microsoft to get their act together and support the W3C standards immediatly or face the end of multi-million contracts, because they are fed up with spending so much money on keeping their websites and transaction software working on a zillion different versions of HTML and not being able to move forward to smatter and cheaper solutions.

I’m not sure I respect Opera a lot for what they have done — what if the EU decides that standards should be made legal?

#16 On December 14th, 2007 1:17 pm Legality Links | K-Squared Ramblings replied:

[...] Speaking of Opera, their EU antitrust complaint against Microsoft has been making waves. Responses at CSS3.info, Web Standards Project, Slashdot, Asa Dotzler, Opera Watch. My take: Good luck on unbundling, but if they can force Microsoft to catch up with the rest of the market in terms of standards support, I’m all for it. [...]

#17 On December 14th, 2007 3:12 pm Opera Files Antitrust Complaint Against Microsoft · Get Latest Mozilla Firefox Browsers replied:

[...] If you have time to read a zillion responses, you can check out commentary at CSS3.info, Web Standards Project, Slashdot, Asa Dotzler, and Opera Watch. [...]

#18 On December 14th, 2007 4:34 pm E-unlimited blog o standardach sieciowych » Opera skarży IE do Komisji Europejskiej replied:

[...] Tłumaczenie artkułu Bruce Lawson: “Opera complains to Europe over IE lock-in” opublikowanego na WaSP w dniu 13 grudnia 2007. Wykonanie Sebastian Snopek. [...]

#19 On December 14th, 2007 8:30 pm michel replied:

Interesting interview with Håkon Wium Lie here:

http://xhtml.com/en/web-standards/conversation-with-opera/

#20 On December 14th, 2007 11:22 pm a work on process » links for 2007-12-15 replied:

[...] Opera complains to Europe over IE lock-in – The Web Standards Project "Opera has filed an antitrust complaint with the European Union to force Microsoft to support open Web standards in Internet Explorer and to unbundle Internet Explorer from Windows and/or carry alternative browsers pre-installed on the desktop." (tags: antitrust eu internetexplorer microsoft opera windows) [...]

#21 On December 15th, 2007 8:11 pm geek:translated » Blog Archive » Opera file antitrust complain against Microsoft in EU replied:

[...] Opera complains to Europe over IE lock-in [...]

#22 On December 16th, 2007 10:57 am Gdynia replied:

I think that they are right. Actually Microsoft is a monopolist. Their action is directed to make people have to use Windows and programs which the company gives. People got used to IE
and most of them probably will still want to use it. Anyway I agree that Opera should be more appreciated. Greetings.

#23 On December 17th, 2007 5:09 am nehmo replied:

“However, complaining that Microsoft is not supporting standards the right way is rather strange, since there is no actual law implementing those standards and making it compulsory.”

It is not strange, because the complaint is anti-competitive practices. It just so happens that those anti-competitive practices are caused by ignoring standards.

#24 On December 17th, 2007 11:46 am Meissen replied:

Interesting interview. Opera is good!

#25 On December 17th, 2007 7:12 pm db replied:

What I like best about the press release is the following quote – “technologically inferior”. I’d love to see some MSN lawyers try to defend against that point.

#26 On December 18th, 2007 10:31 am Robert Wellock replied:

I agree it should be unbundled from the OS it makes sense; as it does give an unfair advantage and many people therefore think Explorer is the only option if they want to surf the web.

#27 On December 19th, 2007 3:50 pm Chris Wilson replied:

Of interest in this thread: http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2007/12/19/internet-explorer-8-and-acid2-a-milestone.aspx.

#28 On December 20th, 2007 5:23 am IE 8 passes the Acid 2 test replied:

[...] This doesn’t mean the new IE has all the other stuff fixed, such as layout and float peculiarities, but it’s a good start. Since this is just the “internal” vesion of IE, I am hoping there will be plenty more improvement by the time the browser hits the beta stage. Opera recently complained to the European Union about IE not having proper standards support. Having passed the Acid 2 test, IE 8 and Microsoft have fought back. Firefox has also just released its version 3 beta 2. Begin the browser wars … again. [...]

#29 On December 20th, 2007 6:31 am My daily readings 12/20/2007 « Strange Kite replied:

[...] My daily readings 12/20/2007 IEBlog : Internet Explorer 8 and Acid2: A Milestone  Annotated When we look at the long lists of standards (even from just one standards body, like the W3C), which standards are the most important for us to support? The web has many kinds of standards – true industry standards, like those from the W3C, de facto standards, unilateral standards, open standards, and more. Some standards like RSS or OpenSearch lack a formal standards body yet work pretty well today across multiple implementations. Many advances in web technologies, like the img tag, start out as unilateral extensions by a vendor. The X in AJAX, for example, has only started the formal standardization process relatively recently. As some comments have pointed out, CSS 2.1, one of the key standards that Acid2 exercises, is not “finalized” yet. Different individuals have different opinions about different standards. The important thing about the Acid2 test is that it reflects what one particular group of smart people “consider most important for the future of the web.” Now, with all that context, I’m delighted to tell you that on Wednesday, December 12, Internet Explorer correctly rendered the Acid2 page in IE8 standards mode. While supporting the features tested in Acid2 is important for many reasons, it is just one of several milestones for the interoperability, standards compliance, and backwards compatibility that we’re committed to for this release. We will blog more on these topics. Here’s a relevant video. [...]

#30 On December 20th, 2007 12:40 pm test 12/20/2007 « Strange Kite replied:

[...] test 12/20/2007 IEBlog : Internet Explorer 8 and Acid2: A Milestone  Annotated When we look at the long lists of standards (even from just one standards body, like the W3C), which standards are the most important for us to support? The web has many kinds of standards – true industry standards, like those from the W3C, de facto standards, unilateral standards, open standards, and more. Some standards like RSS or OpenSearch lack a formal standards body yet work pretty well today across multiple implementations. Many advances in web technologies, like the img tag, start out as unilateral extensions by a vendor. The X in AJAX, for example, has only started the formal standardization process relatively recently. As some comments have pointed out, CSS 2.1, one of the key standards that Acid2 exercises, is not “finalized” yet. Different individuals have different opinions about different standards. The important thing about the Acid2 test is that it reflects what one particular group of smart people “consider most important for the future of the web.” Now, with all that context, I’m delighted to tell you that on Wednesday, December 12, Internet Explorer correctly rendered the Acid2 page in IE8 standards mode. While supporting the features tested in Acid2 is important for many reasons, it is just one of several milestones for the interoperability, standards compliance, and backwards compatibility that we’re committed to for this release. We will blog more on these topics. Here’s a relevant video. [...]

#31 On December 20th, 2007 5:16 pm Bruce Lawson’s personal site  : IE8, Opera, CSS and Standards getting in a tizzy replied:

[...] There’s been a bit of a kerfuffle lately over the Opera complaint that Microsoft is a monopolist that doesn’t uphold Web Standards. I’m glad that I’m not the only one who believes that it’s perfectly feasible for Microsoft and Opera to continue to work with each other on CSS3. I think the idea of having web professionals oust the browser manufacturers from main specification process, relegating them to “a Technical Advisory Panel to look over the Project’s proposals” is unworkable and potentially more cumbersome. Imagine if you’re hired to develop a website for a large oganisation and play no part in the specification process, but merely get a spec arrived at by competing, squabbling end-users who then say “implement this”. [...]

#32 On December 20th, 2007 6:35 pm Internet Explorer 8 passes the Acid 2 test - Kayako Community Forums replied:

[...] Blimey. Cor luvvaduck and no mistake. Just after the announcement that Opera are complaining to the European Union about Internet Explorers dodgy standards support, Chris Wilson reports that an internal build of Internet Explorer 8 passes the Acid2 test. This doesnt necessarily mean that IE8 has fixed all its float oddities, or its hasLayout hilarities. But what it does mean is that there is another browser war, and Microsoft did decide to come. Added 20 December 2007: Markus Mielke of the Internet Explorer team confirms HasLayout will be history with IE8. Exciting times IE8 passes Acid2 test – The Web Standards Project IEBlog : Internet Explorer 8 and Acid2: A Milestone Jamie Edwards (jamie.edwards ]at[ kayako.com) ------------------------------------------------------------------- New to the forum? New user's guide here. [...]

#33 On December 21st, 2007 8:12 am mazury replied:

“Will Opera and Microsoft be able to work together on the W3C despite this legal spat. I would expect so. This almost the same spat that the once mighty Netscape had with Microsoft a few years back, I assumed that they still managed to work together to give us HTML4.
Removing browser manufacturers (and employees of other software companies with financial interests) should make the working groups actually function a like working groups and create real standards fairly quickly (yes I heard the horror stories from members of W3C working parties first hand). You will not get a browser manufacturer saying no we can’t have :first-letter because it will take 6,000 lines of code just to implement that standard.
Will removing browser manufacturers and other software companies with financial interests from working groups improve the implementation of standards? I would say it would have the opposite effect. Because they are not involved in the process of creating standards, why should a browser manufacturer implement a standard. There is no legal or major financial reasons for a browser manufacturer to comply to the standards.
So why should a browser manufacturer add :first-letter support as it will take 6,000 lines of code, they might find a quicker solution to implement :first-character for certain elements and only need to write 1000 lines of code. Then you are coding for have a dozen different browsers that all behave quite differently, anybody remeber 1999. Browser manufacturers and other companies with financial interests need to be involved in the making of standards. With most other standards, companies with financial interests are involved in the process.You need browser manufacturers involved to get their buy in. But we need to make sure their position is not dominant, so they can not slow or halt progress on standards that people want. Part of the problem is W3C membership rules which favour big companies and acedemia. That said, unless we change the model big time, the best we can do is lobby the W3C to make the unworking groups more workable by reducing the power/influence browser manufacturers and other companies with financial interests have in the making of standards.”

#34 On December 21st, 2007 10:42 pm IE8 passes Acid2 test « PogoWolf’s Lair replied:

[...] IE8 passes Acid2 test Posted on December 22, 2007 by pogowolf Chris Wilson reports that an internal build of Internet Explorer 8 passes the Acid2 test. [...]

#35 On December 24th, 2007 12:05 pm Timmy replied:

@Neal: Yes Linux and MacOS come with pre-installed software too, but none of them has such an overwhelming market share as MS does.

I personally think that as long as IE 5 & 6 are not patched, thing’s won’t really get better in the next few years – they’ll get worse. Now you have only somewhat arround 10-20% browsing with standards-compliant browsers, if ie 7,8,… start being standards compliant (without ie 5,6 being patched) you will have 50% with standards compliant and 50% with non-standards compliant browsers surfing on the net.

#36 On December 28th, 2007 8:26 pm Farewell Netscape - The Web Standards Project replied:

[...] While new skirmishes have recently cropped up in the browser world, proving that the war may not truly be over, for this weary old fighter it’s on battle too many to fight, and will be on mere ‘clerical duties’ until February of next year, upon which time it can hang up its combat fatigues for good. [...]

#37 On December 29th, 2007 2:36 am newsworld replied:

MacOS and Linux wil have a huge problem is my guess

#38 On January 6th, 2008 6:22 pm Internet Explorer 8 and Acid2: A Milestone | WCZone Web Design! | Akron Ohio Website Design - Akron Web Development, Cleveland Web Design, Business Website,Web Programming, Akron, Summit County - Services Cuyahoga Falls Website Design Web Development, Bus replied:

[...] [...]

#39 On January 8th, 2008 10:14 pm Dllダウンロード replied:

I like opera, I think peopele should have more choice..
But Operation system without browser, I don’t think so.
peoele will choice right browser themselves.

#40 On January 11th, 2008 1:29 pm James Vaglia replied:

The temporary files share component is checked as read only.

#41 On January 15th, 2008 3:58 am Shock! Horror! IE8 is Standards Compliant | Mike Rouse replied:

[...] The news comes just as Opera files an anti-trust complaint to the European Union about Internet Explorer’s failure to adopt web standards. They say that users should be able to choose a standards-compliant browser from their Windows desktop. Well, when IE8 rolls out they may just get their wish. [...]

#42 On January 16th, 2008 1:10 pm Butler replied:

In regard to the request to “unbundle Internet Explorer from Windows and/or carry alternative browsers pre-installed on the desktop”. Maybe they’ll load up Safari just to bug the Opera folks.

#43 On February 1st, 2008 4:49 pm Joe Clark replied:

Yes, it’s being investigated.

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