Opera says Microsoft EU browser offer not enough

on June 12 2009 11:16 AM

Norwegian browser maker Opera ASA said on Friday that Microsoft's plan to ship its Windows operating system in Europe without its Internet Explorer web browser was not enough to restore competition.

On Thursday the world's top software maker Microsoft, countering pressure from European regulators, said it plans to ship the newest version of Windows in Europe without its Internet Explorer web browser.

I don't think what Microsoft announced is going to restore competition, Opera's Chief Technology Officer Hakon Wium Lie told Reuters.

I don't think its going to be enough, I don't think it will get them off the hook, he said.

Shares in Opera leapt more than 6 percent to a three-year high on the news of Microsoft's plans and expectations for an upcoming announcement from the company, an analyst said.

Microsoft's abrupt reversal comes shortly before the European Commission is due to rule on antitrust charges brought against the company in January, claiming that it abuses its dominant position by bundling its Explorer browser, shielding it from head-to-head competition with rival products.

EU WATCHDOG

Until now, Microsoft has claimed that the browser was an integral part of the operating system and should not be pulled out, but it now plans to do that for a European version of Windows 7, due to be rolled out later this year.

A European Commission official said the EU watchdog will examine the conditions under which Microsoft will ship Windows 7 without browsers to manufacturers and suppliers, warning that the Commission will find out if there are any conditions attached.

We never suggested that they have to sell Windows without Internet Explorer. We suggested that they might have to give the possibility to customers to chose between different browsers, the official said.

The official added that it was in Microsoft's interest to inform the Commission of any conditions attached to the rollout.

The Commission, which enforces competition rules in the 27-nation European Union, said it planned to decide shortly on its latest case against the U.S. tech giant.

It has to date fined Microsoft nearly $2 billion for various offenses. The Commission can impose a fine of up to 10 percent of a company's turnover and other remedies if found to have breached EU rules.

Last month, it slapped a record $1.49 billion fine on the world's biggest chipmaker Intel for anti-competitive practices.

(Additional reporting by Bate Felix and Ilona Wissenbach in Brussels; editing by Mike Nesbit and Rupert Winchester)

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