Opera Software today announced that Web users are the winners upon the completion of the European Commission’s investigation into Microsoft’s browser-bundling practices. Microsoft will now offer users of Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 a screen presenting a choice of Web browsers. In December 2007, Opera Software urged the European Commission to investigate Microsoft’s abuse of its dominant market position and the company’s bundling of Internet Explorer with its Windows operating system.
The new “choice screen” (or “ballot screen”) enables users easily to select and install Internet Explorer alternatives, which are safer, faster and more standards-compliant browsers. By giving consumers a genuine choice of browsers, the door is now open for increased Web compatibility and equal access to Internet content.
“This is a victory for the future of the Web. This decision is also a celebration of open Web standards, as these shared guidelines are the necessary ingredients for innovation on the Web,” said Jon von Tetzchner, CEO, Opera Software. “Opera has long been at the forefront of Web standards, which ensures that people have equal access to the Web anytime, anywhere and on any device. We see the outcome of the EU’s investigation as a testament to our mission.”
After vigorously pursuing the bundling issue upon Opera’s initial complaint in 2007, the European Commission accepted Microsoft’s commitment to a Web browser choice screen, and the investigation was brought to a close. This browser choice agreement will have a term of five years and includes a semi-annual review of its effectiveness. Currently, the browser choice screen will be available to only European consumers.
“The days when companies could use poor standards support to tie down users are over,” said Håkon Wium Lie, Chief Technology Officer, Opera Software. “The browser choice screen will give users access to better browsers with better support for Web standards.”
Timeline of Microsoft v. EU
December 17, 2007 Opera files an antitrust complaint with EU, urging Microsoft to give consumers the option to use standards-compliant browsers. A two-year investigation commences.
January 15, 2009 The European Commission accuses Microsoft of illegally tying Internet Explorer to Windows.
February 9, 2009 The European Commission grants Mozilla the right to join the anti-trust suit against Microsoft.
February 25, 2009 Google announces that it will join the European Union anti-trust case against Microsoft.
April 28, 2009 Microsoft issues a formal statement to the European Commission regarding the anti-trust investigation. The company promises that Windows 7 will be more standards compliant and offers a toggle switch to turn off Internet Explorer.
June 12, 2009 Microsoft’s pledge to improve does not satisfy European Commission investigators. Opera says Microsoft’s move is, “too little, too late.” Opera offers support for the Commission's suggestion of a preloaded choice screen or an alternative browser other than IE, as selected by the OEMs.
July 24, 2009 Microsoft agrees to the browser choice screen proposal.
October 7, 2009 Microsoft begins testing of the new browser choice screen for Europe.
Present The European Commission wraps up its investigation, and consumers now have the option to use a standards-compliant browser with their Windows operating system.