Opera Software ASA, the only company that can put the Web on any device, filed a complaint with the European Commission yesterday which is aimed at giving consumers a genuine choice of Web browsers.
The complaint describes how Microsoft is abusing its dominant position by tying its browser, Internet Explorer, to the Windows operating system and by hindering interoperability by not following accepted Web standards. Opera has requested the Commission to take the necessary actions to compel Microsoft to give consumers a real choice and to support open Web standards in Internet Explorer.
"We are filing this complaint on behalf of all consumers who are tired of having a monopolist make choices for them," said Jon von Tetzchner, CEO of Opera. "In addition to promoting the free choice of individual consumers, we are a champion of open Web standards and cross-platform innovation. We cannot rest until we've brought fair and equitable options to consumers worldwide."
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 preinstalled 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.
"Our complaint is necessary to get Microsoft to amend its practices," said Jason Hoida, Deputy General Counsel, Opera." The European Court of First Instance confirmed in September that Microsoft has illegally tied Windows Media Player to Windows. We are simply asking the Commission to apply these same, clear principles to the Internet Explorer tie, a tie that has even more profound effects on consumers and innovation. We are confident that the Commission understands the significance of the Internet Explorer tie and will take the necessary actions to restore competition and consumer choice in the browser market."
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, Opera LinkTM and many others. Absent Microsoft's abuse, Microsoft would have been forced to compete on a level playing field with Opera and other browsers. Instead of innovating, Microsoft has locked consumers to its own browser and only recently begun to offer some of the innovative features that other browsers have offered for years.
Both of Opera's requested remedies are intended to give consumers greater freedom and flexibility while at the same time ensuring that the Web further develops into a platform for innovation. Opera believes that the remedies will help promote consumer rights worldwide and force Microsoft to begin competing with Opera and others on the merits of its browser.