Opera antitrust complaint against Microsoft is unfair
Before anyone can accuse me of IE fanboyism, I've been using Opera as my primary web browser since 2004 and I work as a web developer - so I fully appreciate the argument that Opera have put forward. But I have a real problem with what Opera are complaining about.
Opera, backed by an industry coalition, said it has complained that Microsoft illegally ties its web browser, Internet Explorer, to its dominant Windows operating system. They are also complaining that Microsoft is hindering interoperability by not adhering to web standards.
As far as I'm concerned, if I made an operating system I should be able to put whatever I like on it. That's like stereo manufacturers complaining that Audi have made their stereos hard to change in their cars. It's absurd.
I fully appreciate that IE doesn't adhere to the standards and that is a problem, but I don't think you could ever complain about the presence of a Microsoft product bundled with another Microsoft product. If I buy the Audi I spoke about, I wouldn't be surprised that the gearbox was also made by Audi.
What the complaint should be
Windows is heavily tied to Internet Explorer, that's absolutely true. I can hold my hand up as a user who once managed to completely remove all instances of IE from a Windows XP install - I can also tell you how hard it was. Unfortunately I had to reinstall it because core functions like Windows Update no longer work, so important security patches cannot be applied without IE installed. I think the complaint should be that Microsoft tie vital features to their browser, meaning that even if you don't use it for any of your web browsing, you still need to use their product.
But have Microsoft done something wrong?
In my eyes, no. It's a product they have built so they should be entitled to upsell any of their other products in it. If you think of all the parts that make up Windows there are an awful lot of aspects that could be improved using proprietary software, so to complain about things like Windows Media Player and IE seems folly when you could also complain about Windows Messenger being integrated too, when Pidgin works just as well.
This isn't Linux. A corporation have built this product and supplied it in conjuction with other products, there's no crime in that in my eyes. Yes their lacklustre attitude to web standards is a valid complaint and I think the browser should be tied into fewer core functions, but to be upset about it's presence seems daft at best.
If Microsoft built a house, would you then shout and complain that they used their own software to control the central heating? As I said above this isn't Linux and you can't be angry at the market leader for showing good business sense. But I do fully agree that IE should follow web standards, in the same way that Opera and Firefox should both follow the standards. All these browsers have their oddities, and IE7 is actually a very good browser indeed.
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