I’m no fan of Internet Explorer’s market dominance…

…but this is not the way to go.

Opera is apparently complaining to the European Commission that Microsoft is stifling competition by bundling Internet Explorer with their operating system.  While it is true that this is the main reason that Internet Explorer maintains its majority market share, it seems frivolous to me to force them to either separate the browser from the operating system, when having a browser is a key feature of any operating system package nowadays.

Certainly, Opera is not suing Apple for bundling Safari with their operating system or the various Linux distributions for bundling whatever browser they choose to bundle with their distribution.  The fact is that software is habitually bundled and forcing Microsoft to un-bundle their software without imposing the same restrictions upon competitors seems like an abuse of anti-trust law.

Now, there is one area where Opera has a real point:

“We believe that Microsoft has harmed Web standards by refusing to support them,” Lie said. “Microsoft often participates in creating Web standards, promoting them and even promising to implement them. Despite their talent, however, they refuse to support Web standards correctly. For example, Internet Explorer is the only modern Web browser that does not support Acid2. Because Internet Explorer doesn’t implement open and fully developed Web standards, the work is hard and frustrating. Web designers are forced to spend time working around IE bugs rather than doing what inspires them.”

Internet Explorer will be the last of the major browsers with a rendering engine that does not pass Acid2 (Firefox 3, which , which is an indicator, though not an absolute determination, of web standards compliance.

The fact is that Internet Explorer, by all accounts, is terrible in terms of its standards compliance and this could be used as an argument that they use their market dominance to give their operating system an unfair advantage, since many web developers end up developing only for Internet Explorer, though that trend is decreasing now that Firefox has caught a significant chunk of the browser market.

Hopefully, if anything happens as a result of this case, Microsoft is required to institute better web standards in future versions of Internet Explorer or is forced to make the rendering engine available for all operating systems.

But given the fact that Microsoft is not actually profiting from the sales of  Internet Explorer (it’s a feature that comes with the operating system) but rather from the sales of operating systems and that is where the monopolist-like behavior is occurring, that is where it should be regulated, not in its competition with Opera.


About Meng Bomin

Real name Benjamin Main, I am a graduate of Grinnell College with a degree in Biological Chemistry.
This entry was posted in Current events, Software. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to I’m no fan of Internet Explorer’s market dominance…

  1. solkem says:

    nice article. i never really realise that Opera really cant pin Microsoft for bundling IE with Windows because most Linux distros come with Firefox and Macs have Safari. This is quite enlighting.

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