Opera brings Microsoft and Internet Explorer in front of the European Commission with an antitrust complaint.
HÃ¥kon Wium Lie, the CTO of Opera, has written an open letter to the web community about why Opera has filed a formal complaint. The gist is because Internet Explorer has failed to support web standards for so long, and the reason that they also want to cut the ties between Internet Explorer and Windows.
At a first look, as a web developer I want to cheer, since IE’s poor web standards support in general is the reason that a web site takes twice as long to develop had it had proper support. IE 7 is still way behind the competitors, but has in my book made things better (although proper event handling and other script-related issues has to be seen to as soon as possible).
Something which would be good, of course, is if all major web browsers would have an equal share of the market; 25% each for IE, Firefox, Safari and Opera respectively. And the overly strong connection between Internet Explorer and the operating system does indeed need to be loosened.
The downside with this complaint is that it comes from another web browser manufacturer, which unfortunately takes the edge off the whole situation. If a competitor can’t succeed, let’s sue the ones who are the most successful…
And, as pointed out in other forums, there is no law about web standards, just an organization offering recommendations. Kind of hard to lose a case about best practises…
Opera are themselves pretty good at web standards, although in my experience, most things they have implemented are great, except for the fact that there’s always some key part missing, which at times renders that specific technological approach all-in all unusable (last experience for me: XPath bugs).
So, to be a web browser vendor and bitch about lack of support in another web browser is either daring, or just plain stupid. Not sure which, yet. However, Opera has a notorious history of trying to support every feature of IE, but at times slightly differently implemented, which has given us web developers a lot of grief and extra work. Tread lightly, Opera. Are you sure you’re entitled to cast the first stone?
What’s the option?
The idea is to either unbundle Internet Explorer from Windows, something which just isn’t feasible. In the words of one of the Opera employees himself: how do you download another web browser, unless you have one to begin with? So, the other option is to “carry alternative browsers pre-installed on the desktop”, which sounds like a much better idea.
But just imagine the ruckus about which other web browsers to include then, what versions of them etc. And I’m fairly convinced Microsoft would do anything in their power to include lesser versions of any competing web browser, if they have the slightest opportunity (which is, most likely, exactly the same Opera would have done in their place).
What will come out of this?
I really have no idea. Is it good to shun some light on the fact that IE is pretty bad with web standards, and that maybe it isn’t a good idea for the major operating system to live in a wedlock with its web browser? Doesn’t everyone already know this?
The interesting part, though, is if the European Commission deem this as worthy claims, and will act upon them. Because if they do, they just might have the power to change the web browser market as we see it today.