In a case of convenient timing, Opera Software's top developer happened to be in CNET's office just after Microsoft disclosed that the European Union has objected to Microsoft's bundling of a Web browser into Windows.
"We think it is right of the EU, for the sake of the consumers, to be concerned about someone potentially misusing their competitive power," Chief Development Officer Christen Krogh told CNET News. The EU action stems from a 2007 complaint by Opera.
Krogh said the Internet is too important for consumer choice to be limited. Developers of software and services, he remarked, shouldn't have to "attach them to something which is proprietary."
The fact that Microsoft's market share has dropped, he said, doesn't ensure that true choice will win out. "There has been more competition before," he said, referring to the Netscape and pre-Netscape days. "Fair competition does not necessarily prevail. We still think whenever a platform has a sufficiently high market share, it should be open and easy for consumers to choose their component to access the Internet."
Even if IE's market share drops to below 60 percent in Europe, Krogh said, "we think that is sufficiently high to be concerned."
Krogh's comments were echoed by other Opera executives in a statement provided by the company.
"On behalf of all Internet users, we commend the Commission for taking the next step towards restoring competition in a market that Microsoft has strangled for more than a decade, wrote Jon von Tetzchner, Opera's CEO. "The Commission's Statement of Objections demonstrates that the Commission is serious about getting Microsoft to start competing on the merits in the browser market and letting consumers have a real choice of Internet browsers."
Opera noted that it follows the same principles applied by the EU in 2004, when it held that Microsoft could not tie its media player to Windows and ordered the software maker to offer a version with the media player stripped out.
"The Court of First Instance's judgment was clear that Microsoft illegally tied Media Player to Windows," said Jason Hoida, deputy general counsel at Opera. "We are not surprised that the Commission has issued a Statement of Objections based on the principles in that judgment. We are confident that the Commission will ultimately conclude that Microsoft has violated European competition law again and that it will take all necessary actions to restore competition and consumer choice in this important market."