You may be already aware that, Opera had filed an antitrust complaint with the European Union, against Microsoft. Opera had alleged that, Microsoft was breaking the open web by refusing to follow web standards. Internet Explorer’s non-standard rendering coupled with the use of proprietary technologies made a significant number of websites unusable on browsers other than Internet Explorer. According to Opera, this amounted to misuse of power by a monopoly. Opera had two demands. First, they wanted Microsoft to unbundle Internet Explorer and/or bundle alternate browsers. Second, they wanted the EU to force Microsoft to adhere to standards.
This wasn’t the first anti-trust complaint filed against Microsoft. In fact Microsoft has already paid â‚¬1.68 billion in fines to the EU. Having been forced to swallow the bitter pill in the past, Microsoft was more than willing to bend on this occasion. After two years of deliberations, EU has finally decided to drop the case and let Microsoft go with just a warning. However, Microsoft has promised to include up to 12 alternate browsers with Windows. The user will be provided the option of picking any browser from a ballot screen.
Microsoft will have to implement these measures in all copies of Windows (XP/Vista/7) sold in Europe by March 2010. Failing to do so may lead to being fined up to 10% of global annual turnovers. The current agreement is valid for five years, but EU will be able to review it at the end of 2011.
This is a big victory for Opera (and other supporters of the complaint including Mozilla, Google, Nokia, Sun and Adobe). This is what Opera’s CEO, Jon S. von Tetzchner had to say:
I know that some of you have mixed views on our efforts to instill change within Microsoft. I want you to be aware that I have listened to all of the feedback, both positive and negative, and I have taken it very seriously. But our choice to pursue this matter was the result of our firm belief that the long-term future of the Web is in better hands as the result of this case. We have long believed that compliance with open standards is absolutely necessary for progress. Now, with the decision of the European Commission, Microsoft has been asked to open a door and help us realize the full potential of the Web. Let’s get started!
[Image Courtesy: nDevil]