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Opera Levies Antitrust Suit vs. Microsoft

Browser maker Opera Software has cried foul, charging Microsoft with antitrust behavior in a complaint to the European Commission.

The antitrust suit, filed Wednesday, charges that Microsoft's bundling of the Internet Explorer browser with its dominant Windows operating system hurts competition.

Oslo, Norway-based Opera wants the EC to force the unbundling of the browser and/or the inclusion of alternative browsers to be pre-installed on the Windows desktop, thereby leveling the playing field.

That argument echos earlier charges that Microsoft "bundled" functionality with its operating system to hurt rivals providing similar features. RealNetworks leveled alleged the same thing over Microsoft's inclusion of a media player in Windows.

"We are filing this complaint on behalf of all consumers who are tired of having a monopolist make choices for them," said Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner in the statement. "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."

It is also asking the European Commission to force Microsoft to comply with basic Web standards as accepted by "web-authoring communities."

Opera alleges that Microsoft gives lip service to supporting common standards but instead subverts them, and that this practice makes Microsoft the controller of de facto standards which are "more costly to support, harder to maintain and technologically inferior and that can even expose users to security risks."

IE retains the lion's share of the worldwide market, with nearly 85 percent share as of July, according to researcher OneStat. Mozilla/Firefox remains firmly in second place with almost 13 percent, while Apple's Safari comes in third with less than 2 percent. Opera had less than 1 percent -- .61 percent -- at that time. In the US, IE's numbers were lower and Firefox's higher.

More coverage of Opera's suit is here.

About the Author

Barbara Darrow is Industry Editor for Redmond Developer News, Redmond magazine and Redmond Channel Partner. She has covered technology and business issues for 20 years.

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