This morning while going through my mail, I read that Opera has filed an antitrust complaint against Microsoft with the European Union, to force Microsoft to:
- “unbundle Internet Explorer from Windows and/or carry alternative browsers pre-installed on the desktop”
- “require Microsoft to follow fundamental and open Web standards accepted by the Web-authoring communities”
Because both of these raised a few questions with me, even after reading the press release by Opera and Håkon Wium Lie’s open letter to the web community, I quickly emailed him with a few questions, and he was kind enough to respond:
You’re trying to get the EU to force MS to “to follow fundamental and open Web standards accepted by the Web-authoring communities”. Which open web standards do you have in mind there? CSS 2.1? CSS3? HTML 4? HTML 5? Other ones? What makes these standards legal in any form in your opinion?
If Microsoft fully supported the standards they have chosen to implement, the web would have been a much better place. For example, in 1998, Microsoft said:
“Microsoft has a deep commitment to working with the W3C on HTML and CSS. We have the first commercial implementation of HTML4, we were the first vendor anywhere to implement even portions of CSS, and we have put a tremendous amount of energy into seeing CSS mature to Level 2. We are still committed to complete implementations of the Recommendations of the W3C in this area (CSS and HTML and the DOM).”
It’s quite clear that they havn’t followed up on their promises to support W3C Recommendations for CSS, HTML and the DOM. So, Opera or the EU don’t really need to single out standards — Microsoft has done so already.
You’re filing a complaint because MS bundles IE, but wouldn’t that also require you to file the same complaint against Apple? MS is the “easy target” here in my opinion, as they have been convicted of stuff before and they have a monopoly, but Apple does basically the same thing.
No, it’s very different. Microsoft is a monopolist, Apple is not. The courts have determined this and legally it makes a difference. A monopolist cannot use its monopoly in one area to get a monopoly in another area. We contend that Microsoft has achieved their monopoly in Internet Browsers from abusing their monopoly on PC operating systems.
Why did you file this case now?
First, browsers are more important now than they ever were before. Web browsers are not just document viewers, but form platforms onto which applications are built. Therefore, it’s more important than ever that users have a genuine choice among browsers. This is really what this case is about: genuine choice and the right to compete on merit.
Second, the European Courts handed down a judgement in September which is relevant to our complaint. That case was about tying media players to Windows. Microsoft lost and have not appealed. Browsers are very similar to media players, except that browsers are even more important. So we think an important precedent has been set.
Well, I for one will be very curious as to how this unravels. If Opera wins this, it might hugely impact the browser world…
You can skip to the end and leave a response.
Well, it semms that we are at a breaking point.
I mean, if Microsoft lose (it’s different from saying “Opera wins”?) the question will be: what about the old version of IE?
Can Microsoft release a patch to made them all W3C compliant?
Maybe even if it wants it can’t.
This is my question.
A desktop operating system without a browser is pretty useless. How is the user supposed to download an alternative browser if no browser is pre-installed? Use http://ftp.exe?
Also, it is completely unreasonable to expect Microsoft to remove MSHTML. I don’t believe that any sane person could argue that it is bad to have an embeddable browser component that developers can count on to be available on all Windows installations.
Of course, trying to force them to support web standards is different.
On the “should they not also file against Apple” thing: Should they not also file against Nintendo as the only browser available on the Wii is Opera…. oh wait… Is it even possible to file against yourself?
I get that IE lack of standards support is damaging to web development. I don’t get how unbundling IE from Windows helps that. If Microsoft loses and IE has to be unbundled I believe that would me more damaging than if IE7 was not released and IE6 was still the bundled default browser.
Thanks for those answers, quite helpful.
Still not too sure the “now” part is answered to satisfaction, however. Better moments would seem to have been:
A) When IE had its peak popularity, and MS did not appear interested in upgrading it
B) Within the next few months, once we know more about how standards support looks in IE8.
Also, it should be interesting to see how the no-bundled-browser situation would be solved. Does Opera have a proposal for this?
I don’t believe that unbundling is the solution, and I don’t believe it will come to that. I think that what Opera want is the option to have their browser – or anyone else’s – available upon install, or as a clear option.
The problem is that most people don’t know and don’t care what a browser is; they just ‘switch on the internet’, so there’s no incentive for them to learn about the advantages of different browsers.
MS have always escaped censure by saying that IE is integrated into the OS and can’t be removed; I believe that’s why they always claim that they can’t release standalone versions.
If that’s the case, then a possible solution would be to have a Wizard on first connection to the internet, which asks you what browser you would like to use then downloads it for you.
I think people are missing some things:
If the EU accepts this complaint, it *will* affect how IE8+ is shaped.
What’s the likelihood from all the ECMAScript 4 complaints we’ve heard from Microsoft that they aren’t trying to move JScript.Net or .Net compiled languages onto the web?
What’s the likelihood if W3C elect a codec for video & audio tags that Microsoft will follow through and implement it?
Microsoft has had the least input in the spec. defining processes recently (HTML5), which for the biggest browser vendor is a worry.
All these things could be answered at the anti-trust hearing.
I think Opera has done the right thing.
Buru: I’ve seen that argument repeated all over the place. Not having a default browser in a Windows release is quite different from having a default browser when you purchase a machine. OEMs have been pre-installing software for a while, this gives them another selection to make. Of course, the selection criteria needs to be watched as closely ;)
But the “choice” suggestion still leaves some issues…
– Who decides which browsers are available for selection? And in what order should they be displayed?
– Will browser makers be allowed to add a blurb about why they should be picked?
– Won’t Microsoft be required to say they are not responsible for supporting other browsers? That would probably scare off most people.
– Won’t people who don’t know better just pick IE anyway, since they’re used to it?
– Won’t there have to be a default browser for mass-installations?
And Joost is right:
Web dev: I’m going to stop using hacks for IE!
Boss/client: You broke the site. Fix it or I’ll hire someone else who will
Web dev: okay *pulls out the bag of IE hacks with a sigh*
3 cheers for Opera for making headway in this battle. It may be minor, and it may be unsuccessful, however as a developer of web sites and applications, I would do anything to improve the “platform” support for my sites and applications.
All of my projects run on Mozilla, Firefox, Opera, Konqueror, Safari (without a lick of code change) but for IE 6 and IE 7, I spend countless hours trying to make them comply to the standards that they claim to support, or claim to be aiming to support.
(I don’t support any version of IE below 6 period, and in 6 months, my official support for IE 6 is dropping, with an upgrade page presented with options to upgrade to Firefox, Opera, Safari or IE 7 (order randomized to be fair))
IE 8 has been announced (see IE Blog) as the next version (big surprise there), but not a single feature or fix has been announced. During IE 7 development, then indicated that the focus was on the end user improvements (tabs, security, rss, etc.) and that IE.next would be focused on core improvements, fixing the JS, fixing the DOM, fixing the CSS, fixing the UI, and hopefully native support for things like SVG or Canvas.
Since we haven’t heard a word about this yet, I fear that they have broken said promise, and done nothing to improve the JS/CSS/DOM side of things. If this is the case, I will personally go nuts with frustration, but it will confirm that my support for browsers will NOT be focused on IE, as I see no commitment to fixing the browser. If they blow my mind by actually fixing the CSS, the JS, the DOM, and the many rendering issues they have, then I will rejoice and have renewed faith in MS. At which point, I will confirm my gratitude towards sites like this one, for pushing the standards info, and companies like Opera, for vocally bringing MS to the table to play fair.
I just want a better Internet. Everyone is at the table, IE has been called to dinner, but is nowhere to be found.
Opera is doing very well on this.
MS already lost the case for wmp so i think this will follow.
This could be done with application similar to mozilla prism, and if MS make something like that only for installation to choose which browser to be installed from windowsmarketplace website for example, will be great.
Q&A on Opera’s recent antitrust complaint against Microsoft says:Comment » December 14th, 2007 at 8:02 pm
[…] also spoke with the fine folks over at CSS3.info. If you enjoyed this post, then make sure you subscribe to my RSS Feed. digg_url = […]
Didn’t Microsoft and internet explorer already have to split off into 2 companies the last time they were sued (hence why its called windows internet explorer rather than Microsoft internet explorer)?
Doesn’t seem much different than a mac OS shipping with safari – there’s gotta be a default browser.
That aside, I seriously doubt a court is going to force IE to conform to web standards. especially since the W3C standards are almost non-existent right now, they just have a bunch of recommendations but very few things that are classified as official “standards”.
I support H5N1’s idea that we all stop coding for IE. I do understand that our employers would not let us do that. But still we can atleast start doing that in our personal sites and convince other people to follow it. May be we can create a web movement towards this. Isn’t it? Well, I am already into it.
Beginners Learn Web Standards Application Development - Novice Notes » Blog Archive » Opera Hits Microsoft with a Bludgeoning Left Hook! says:Comment » December 15th, 2007 at 5:52 am
[…] read the original Opera Press Release for the complete story. I recommend you also read the article at cutting edge web standards, and CSS evangelists’ web site, […]
Most (as in almost all) consumers get Windows when they buy a PC. It would be absolutely insane for any PC vendor to sell a PC to a consumer with no default, preloaded browser on it. A consumer would return a PC that could not go online.
There is no valid argument against removing IE as the default bundled software, and relying on OEMs to choose a browser (IE could even be in that pool – barring tricky incentives), and arranging for a support contract from that company/organization.
This really would allow browsers to compete with IE on the Windows platform (the Monopoly OS – Mac OS X, Nintendo Wii, not Monopolies) for the favor of OEMs (where most, meaning almost all users get their browsers). I’d like to believe that Opera, Mozilla, or even Apple, could come up with a better deal for browser support than Microsoft, who refuses to even update theirs (except when it comes time to release a new OS nobody wants).
I’m also willing to believe there is some reason why large OEMs don’t slap the Firefox logo all over the front of their boxes, like they do with the Norton Antivirus, and other logos (even some inhouse stuff). It’s speculation, but I’d bet there is some kind of legal issue with Microsoft’s OEM license wording or OEMs would loose some other benefit, or something along those lines.
@Ameer and everybody:
My proposal was only a provocation, obviously.
When I started developing website and web application I used hacks for Opera, Mozilla and IE. You know, I mean strange browser-oriented DOM implementation and so on.
Recently I use two method: DOM compliant browsers one and IE one.
It’s very frustrating to be aware that the most of people (IE buddies) will see the result of a non standard code.
Funny you guys mention stopping to support IE on your websites, because I posted a news on mine just last week to announce my site will no longer be 100% compatible with IE (6 or 7) in order to clean up my code and all. (Although my site still sucks, I don’t have enough time to devote to it)
The site is still viewable in IE, it degrades gracefully enough, it’s just not as pretty.
The institute IT department i work at (part of the University of Oslo) are planning to make all the computers used at the institute preinstalled with Firefox due too security concerns. We’d prefer to not have IE installed at all. Per today this isn’t possible. If the legal suit comes through, we could do this. And I suspect we’re not the only ones.
Unlinking Windows and IE would level the playing field for browser vendors, and cause some real competition.
Daniel Glazman (Netscape, Mozilla, Disruptive Innovations, CSSWG) comments: http://www.glazman.org/weblog/dotclear/index.php?post/2007/12/14/Hakon-Lie-on-steroids
Opera didn’t make the rules…
EC says a company can’t use its monopoly to create a new. Evolution depends on multiple genes. If Windows (monopoly) blocks non IE browsers (competition), then that’s illegal.
Just like in sports, business has rules too. Don’t cross the line.
As for bundling. Manufacturers Dell, HP, IBM, etc. have to pay for IE when buying Windows (OS). Unbundle IE and they may choose to preinstall FF or Opera instead.
Stats show Opera is browser of choice in the free and fast growing mobile web market. Innovation wins when no player owns the league ?… I wouldn’t buy tickets for Red sox vs. Red sox ;)
I don’t like to appear rigid, really, I have an open mind, I swear! :)
But I think that emotions and fellings are an important part of our choise.
I mean, when you are a developer and keep on frustration whith personal IE behaviour you start to hate it…
You try to keep your code polite, clean, perfect.
You even change your innerHTML with createTextNode…
Well, your efforts become a “unknown runtime error” in IE.
It’s not funnny at all.
On the other side we can talk about secutiy…
Following the Secunia reports you can find Opera is the browser with less bug and the smallest time to detect and fix them.
The second is Firefox.
IE is the worst.
I’m not talking about little bugs, but major security bugs: the ones can allow someone to expoit the sys.
What else to say?
There are quite a lot of people using Internet who do not know “the other browsers”. Most of them even do not know what is a browser. Their OS comes with an Internet program preinstalled and they just connect to the Internet. It is shameful but true that when you ask somebody what browser he is using, he/she says something like Google or Yahoo!
IE, for a long time (and still), has been taking advantage of these newbies to toss its market share.
Another thing is that when Opera filed an anti-trust complaint against IE, Firefox fans start off saying that Opera is just trying to earn free publicity and Opera has to take Firefox as an example instead. Eventhough Firefox has over 15% marketshare, IE really doesn’t care about it. Because they know that behind their 80% marketshare is a userbase of dumb newbies(sorry! I had to say that) who will not even care about the term “browser”.
Ameer is right, but we have to distinguish between two different kind of users: the “sleepers” and the “aware”.
“A broeser? Oh, yeah Google!”. They even can’t notice the difference betweeen Explorer and Internet Explorer. They don’tknow what a browser is. They think that when a bug popup appear they probably have a malware. Some of they never heard words like webstandards or accessibility and even if they know they don’t care.
ICT employeers, Professionals or semi-professionals, IT hobbyists, people aware in what they do, people that care of what tthey have.
I have a “cruel” opinion about most of the PC users: it seemms they think that they can do whatever they want whit their hardware and software even in the Internet: they don’t care about their responsabilities because they don’t know they have!
I mean: if I write a comment on a blog and this comment is against an International law it’s obvious that the only responsable one is me!
Not so for everyone.
Back to the point: I notice that the spleepers are a sinking opulation while the awares are increasing.
I can suppose this by the high quality blogs I can find, by the growing interest for security in the forums etc…
Obviously the sleepers are the most, yet.
This is the power of Microsoft Browser.
“Daniel Glazman (Netscape, Mozilla, Disruptive Innovations, CSSWG) comments: http://www.glazman.org/weblog/dotclear/index.php?post/2007/12/14/Hakon-Lie-on-steroids”
I am saddened to see Glazman make those comments. I’m not going to bother with #5, but his other points are completely bogus. Let me explain:
1: It becomes a problem when Microsoft consciously violate standards to prevent competition in the market. Normally it wouldn’t matter if the standards weren’t followed. I’m wondering how happy Glazman would be without standards required by law in the aviation industry, though… So yes, standards can be required by law. They may not in this case, but that is not relevant to the complaint.
2+3: Neither of those have a market position similar to Microsoft. You are not forced to use Apple/Safari to access the web, and you are not forced to use SFR/Opera Mini.
Neither Apple nor Opera break standards just to lock people to their browser and prevent competition either.
That’s 2 out of 2 wrong comparisons by Glazman.
4: Glazman’s claim is blatantly false and shows a complete lack of understanding. It doesn’t matter if you can download another browser, since many sites still require MSIE. So you don’t have an actual choice. You will be forced to use MSIE on many sites anyway. I can put up with that, but can Joe User?
Hmm: I can’t get something. I miss something. Maybe it’s me, can’t understand.
Standsards starts as reccomendetion, still the W3C standards are called “reccomendetion”, ain’t they?
But in Europe, just like in USA, there are many Countries that adopted standards and shaped new laws according to them for the accessibility and usability.
In this case we cannot talk of reccomendetion anymore.
I can take a case of my Country: Italy.
Don’t start laughing, please! :)
In Italy the number one ISP is the TELCO “Telecom Italia”.
The support site in wich you can test speed and connection requires Internet Explorer.
The Call Center cannot accept any other information if it doesn’t come from their site.
So if you don’t have Internet Explorer or, worst, if you have a GNU/Linux system or a Mac you’re almost without support.
Funny? At all.
Maybe we’re all missing the point.
The facts. The facts count, the facts are rilevant, the facts have voice.
“Reccomendetion”, assumptions, thoughts and theories are not facts.
They can help making facts, without them we can’t build the world but they’re not facts until they cannot become “touchable”.
I’m forced to use XHTML 1.1 and serve the page (yet) as test/html because Microsoft browser is so stupid to recognise application/xhtml+xml.
This is a fact.
@Stifu: ok, that’s right, maybe “forced” is not correct.
But sometime custumers ask for a specific DOCTYPE.
I know that it’s technically wrong, so I use a PHP script to serve the document as application/xhtml+xml only for W3C engine, Opera and Safari while as html for Firefox and IE.
Also Firefox have some problems: it cannot allow XML inclusion (you know: XMLHTTPRequest and so on).
But if I only want to use XHTML 1.0 Strict I have to use this hacks for IE specially.
I’m a supporter of modular division: content, style, scripts, MathML etc…
Times are long to come….
It should be the developers choice to choose which doctype he is going to use. If I want to use XHTML 1.1 then I should be able to make that choice. I should not be “forced” to use a separate doctype for IE and another doctype for Firefox. That is what we call choice. If we are not able to choose between these doctypes and the browsers choose the doctype for us, then what is the use of all these doctypes.
This is why we need open standards. This is why browsers should not create their own “rules”. This is why all the browsers need to follow the standards. This is why most of us hate IE. Isn’t it?
Indeed, things should work this way. But since we’re not in a perfect world, we need to accept concessions until things are finally fixed…
Hardcore web geeks recommend sticking with HTML 4 for now, considering how much XHTML is butchered and misused by the vast majority of Internet sites, making its advantages over good old HTML 4 unusable.
Personally, I’m very interested in SVG, but I have little hope IE will ever implement it… So I’m thinking of remaking my site in SVG, with a sub-par HTML mirror of it for IE users. Not that anyone cares. :p
@Stifu: Ie7 impements SVG but…
Well, if you open an svg document with IE all right, but what if you develop an XHTML with MathML and SVG inside it?
you HAVE TO serve the page as an application, as an XML file (what it is) so that all browser can read and recognise the document.
All but IE.
If only the standards were follow much of our problems would be gone.
@Ameer: I WANT follow the standards, I LIKE follow the standards and I’d like not to hack anything.
My dream crash against IE (but not only).
Recenty I wrote on Dustin Diaz blog:
“In the beginning, when you write (copy and paste) your code the only important thing is that it works. So you can write hundreds lines of code, no matter, but if it works it’s enough.
Most of the beginners start with Internet Explorer (you know, it’s the most diffuse browser) and a part of ‘em neither knows that Firefox, Opera and Safari exist! How can they think about something like crossbrowsing?”
And this is the very annoying, frustrating point for a standard point of view: reality crashes with standards.
IE doesn’t support SVG yet. The only alternative is to use the adobe plugin which also doen’t properly support all of SVG. The point here is that the adobe plugin has to be installed on the client’s machine for IE to work with SVG. If an IE user doesn’t have the plugin, the page is broken for him. This is a slap on tha face of the web developer. Then he has two ways to go, either to redirect IE users to a minimal version or to instruct the users to install the adobe plugin which 99% users won’t even give a damn.
So here again, web developers are left with no option but to code sperately for IE and that is what we are talking about. Open standards has to come forward in these situations rather than third-party plugins.
[…] Opera’s complaint against MS caused quite a bit of stir in the CSS related parts of the blogosphere. Andy called the CSS WG the CSS un-working group, H&akon updated, complaining that “we didn’t get it”. You know what? I, personally, couldn’t care less about all this nonsense. […]
@H5N1: “Standsards starts as reccomendetion, still the W3C standards are called “reccomendetion”, ain’t they?”
In Microsoft’s case, a major part of the antitrust case is that their violation of standards/recommendations impedes competition in the browser market. So the standards themselves aren’t required by law, but Microsoft may be forced to follow them anyway, because not doing so would be anti-competitive. Do you understand?
Just as I’ve said here in css3.info before (some article I commented at). Finally some took the step. We need to take action and not just sit there and ‘wish’ that IE will stop being stubborn.
I’ll pray that the EU will listen. IE must be as compliant as any other browsers out there. They’re too far behind, and because they hold the majority share of the browser space, they are putting us web developers still in the past, because we have to most-of-the-time make our sites compatible with IE.
Now if they want to be stubborn, then they should stop shipping Windows with IE as the (1) default browser; and (2) the only browser.
That way, other browsers will have a chance to become the dominant browser, and so when the time comes, we can completely ignore the stubborn IE browser.
Of course, MS will do that, who would give up his dominance? So it’s up to the EU now.
We all know that IE6 and IE7 are both far in the bottom list of browsers when it comes to compliancy with the web-standards. Limiting everyone in the process…..
I think Microsoft has been pushing this too far by doing nothing regarding standards support in their browser. Opera fighting back like this might not be the best choice, but everyone in the industry is pissed about IE right now.
Just have a look on the IE Blog, I haven’t seen a blog out there with more acid comments and curses towards the blog team, but even so MS does not have the balls to come forward and confess they screwed up. And messing with all of the web developers out there might not be a too bright decision for MS.
IE still has the biggest slice in the browsers pie, but some day it might drop and no web developer will ever look back to the company that laughed in their face.
I know that fighting a monopoly is hard, but I do have the hope that the future will bring good things for all web developers, making our lives easier.
Congratulations to Opera – they are finally doing something useful. I don’t know that their case has too much merit when Firefox can grab big market share numbers in Europe because it discovered and sold the search-preference/click-through revenue model whilst Opera stuck with adware for ages.
However whatever it takes to get MS to comply is fine by me. IE7 has just made the browser world even worse. Before we had just the two browsers to code for, now we have three even so long after IE7’s release.
[…] been working closely with major web app providers to make sure that the browser is compatible. Their suit against Microsoft could be a turning point for the company, but a decision may not be forthcoming in the near […]
And then please file a complaint againt Apple, and while we’re at it, all the Linux distibutions as well. They also bundle default browsers with their operating systems, but no one seems to mind that.
While I agree that IE has had horrible standards support, that has now improved with IE7 and will even more with IE8, I think that this is wrong. I get sick of this “evil Microsoft” thing. Without Microsoft the computer we have today wouldn’t exist (and no, Apple wouldn’t have taken over, they live because they can compete). Since when has been accepted practice to force a competitor to do what you want by filing a complaint?
If it wasn’t for all the time MS has to spend implementing required changes from EU, they would probably be able to make more improvements to thei products. And the recent EU ruling that forces MS to release source code for Windows to third parties is just crazy. Why not require Opera to release their code to MS and Mozilla?
The difference, Asbjørn, is that the European Union found Microsoft guilty of abusing its monopoly position:
It’s not just someone’s point of view, it’s a legal finding.
I am an opera fan, Opera is the best browser ever. But they can’t demand MS to do this. Windows is an MS product and they can do whatever they want with it. I think they are trying to get something for free. If they want MS to have their browsers in Windows, they should pay MS and get it done.
I just can’t say enough, how glad I am to use Opera. IE seems ancient and just out of date, compared to the many features of Opera. I will never ever go back to IE. Firefox is also a very good browser. IE is the worst. :)
Microsoft is a monopolist. Opera has every right to demand that they stop abusing their monopoly position – and so does every other competitor to Microsoft.
Besides, you said it right in your post – “IE seems ancient”. That’s because being the browser by far the most market share, there is no incentive for Microsoft to develop it any further. If independent companies want to reach the widest market, they must support the ancient platform. It is a burden on every one of us who must support that platform, and that’s why this particular monopoly is such a problem for us.
I don’t like nor use internet explorer. I use firefox. I really like firefox and find it a hundred times easier to use than IE. I never use outlook. I received a notice of a security update the other day. Now I can’t erase IE faster than it can put it back on. IE is in my computer and I can’t get it out. I tried to call MS. I was put on hold for far too long a time. I tried to Email, but they wouldn’t let me through without answering questions that I didn’t know the answers to. The world needs to know about this. They are in my computer (Internet Explorer)and I can’t get them out. I was thinking of going over to Linux. Now I’m determined. How do I get this garbage off my computer without reformating it? Somebody help me.
Hi John Herron, I’d like to know if you mean you want uninstall IE or simply set Firefox as default browser!
If the answer is the second case it’s simple enough: just check out Firefox settings options. This option is in the main tab.
If you want to uninstall IE, well, you can but you can have much more trouble since (just said in this arcticle) it’s one thing with the O.S.
It means that some libraries (like MSHTML i.e.) are components of the O.S. itself…
Personally i am looking forward for anything succeeding against Microsoft.
I had seen that example in Italy above… In Hungary even worse happened. They introduced a web based taxing system which well, was only accessible with Explorer. And then since it was mandatory to use that, they forced a computer shop dealing only with Unix stuff buying microsoft software (I do not know how this ended, the shop started a lawsuit against the situation, but i never got to know what happened then).
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