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I never really understood the business model behind Opera, a company that is selling a browser when everybody else in the World is giving it for free, both because it's included in the OS (IE and Safari) or because it's an OpenSource project (Firefox, Mozilla).

Now Opera, probably because is seeing that his business model was wrong, has filed a formal complaint to the European Union. Then his CTO wrote an open letter to the web community. And in doing this, in my opinion, they showed they real intents:

  • in the formal complaint, the one that the European Commission will have to evaluate, they asked "to obligate Microsoft to unbundle Internet Explorer from Windows and/or carry alternative browsers pre-installed on the desktop" and then asked to obligate IE to comply to the web standards
  • in the open letter they cite the formal complaint saying that they asked the EU "to force Microsoft to support open Web standards in its Web browser, Internet Explorer" (and second "that Microsoft frees Internet Explorer from the Windows platform")

Why is the official document about the anti-trust complaint while the open letter is about the Web Standards? This is being manipulative.

Also other important person in the web community are sharing my thoughts: Eric Meyer said,

It’s the wrong move at the wrong time, sending precisely the wrong signal to Microsoft about the importance of participating in development and support of open standards, and I can only hope that it comes to a quiet and unheralded end.

Molly E Holzschlag, now part of the IE team, is worried that now Microsoft could end the very good feedback process they started with the web community:

What does anyone do when they’re threatened? Usually shut down all communication. Which is exactly what we as developers and designers of the Web are largely advocating MUST END.

And another "important" person in the Web community, Andy Clark, part of the W3C's CSS working group, is also worried about what could happen to the CSS standardization process at W3C:

What I am concerned about is how Opera's action will further destabilize the W3C's CSS Working Group of which both Opera and Microsoft post representatives. I am concerned that this action will irrevocably damage the promise and progress of CSS3. Not for the first time, Opera's action also calls into question whether we, as web designers and developers, can trust the W3C and their corporate participants with the development of our future tools.

And also reminds us that:

But let's not forget that Opera is a software development company that earns its living from making software that is deployed across a variety of devices. Their implementation of CSS and other standardized web technologies may come in part from their passion for standards, but it also comes from their need to make a product that they can sell to the likes of Nokia and Nintendo. Let's not kid ourselves, Opera is as much a commercially driven organization as Microsoft.

Let's see what is going to happen, but to me, now, Opera lost all my respect.

UPDATE: Asa Dotzler from Mozilla corp collected quite a few articles, mostly with bad comments against this action by Opera: opera calls for ec investigation of microsoft.

Note: Emphasis is mine

kick it on DotNetKicks.com

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posted on Monday, December 17, 2007 1:18 PM

Comments on this entry:

# re: Sick of Opera

Left by raffaeu at 12/17/2007 3:53 PM

Bad, too bad. I discover now Opera is a Sofware development company and I discover now Opera is a commercial Browser. Who's the crazy man will spend money to buy something badder than FF. I also remind you Windows works <under> IE. How can Microsoft remove IE from windows core, i think it's an impossible idea, don't you?

# re: Sick of Opera

Left by ooaavee at 12/17/2007 5:00 PM

Maybe you understood something wrong.

http://www.opera.com/download/

...yes, and it's FREE.

# re: Sick of Opera

Left by Kelson at 12/17/2007 6:29 PM

Opera hasn't charged anyone for their desktop browser since 2005.

Their business model for the desktop version is, in fact, the same as Firefox's: placement deals with search engines. They also have a very strong presence in the mobile devices market, where they get money from licensing the mobile version of the browser out to phone manufacturers.

# re: Sick of Opera

Left by John Doe at 12/17/2007 6:43 PM

Microsoft is one of the biggest companies in the world, if they wanted their browser to comply to W3 standards it would have been a very long time ago.

They're going their own way on purpose for their own benefits.

To all those backing up Microsoft: get bent!

# re: Sick of Opera

Left by foobar at 12/17/2007 7:18 PM

Simone Chiaretta,

You're deluded and confused.

1. IE is NOT free. To use IE, you must have Windows. To use Windows, you must pay for it.

2. Opera is FREE to download and to use.

If you don't see the link between the formal complaint and the open letter, I doubt your mental capacity, and I assure you I'm not anti-Microsoft. Holzschlag's and Clark's stances are self-serving. Both have been involved with Microsoft for the last several months.

# re: Sick of Opera

Left by James at 12/17/2007 7:44 PM

Even if you don't like Opera, just admit that the many flavors of IE are annoying, web standards violating pieces of crap.

Default installation with Windows is all IE has going to for it right now.

Firefox (thanks to extensions) and Opera are just better browsers.

# re: Sick of Opera

Left by Corey at 12/17/2007 8:31 PM

Even when opera charged for their browser, there was an ad-supported version that was free.

I was a user of opera for many years, as they had tabbed browsing long before Mozilla and IE did.

I think trying to force Microsoft to not ship a browser with the OS will get nowhere, but if this complaint leads to better web standards in IE I will be very happy.

# re: Sick of Opera

Left by JackInTheBox at 12/17/2007 9:19 PM

To the blogger:

"I never really understood the business model behind Opera, a company that is selling a browser when everybody else in the World is giving it for free"

Opera for desktop has been free for a long time. The business model is the exact same as Mozilla's: Making money from searches. It also licenses Opera to be included on mobile phones and other devices.

"Now Opera, probably because is seeing that his business model was wrong, has filed a formal complaint to the European Union."

No, Opera's business model is very sound. It had a total revenue increase of more than 50% in the last quarter. The company is also profitable and has plenty of cash in the bank.

"Why is the official document about the anti-trust complaint while the open letter is about the Web Standards? This is being manipulative."

If you had read the official press release you would have realized that they are related:

http://www.opera.com/pressreleases/en/2007/12/13/

"The complaint describes how Microsoft is abusing its dominant position by tying its browser, Internet Explorer, to the Windows operating system and by hindering interoperability by not following accepted Web standards. Opera has requested the Commission to take the necessary actions to compel Microsoft to give consumers a real choice and to support open Web standards in Internet Explorer."

"Andy Clark (...) is worried about what could happen to the CSS standardization process at W3C"

No, Andy Clark is abusing the situation to push his agenda, which he has been wanting to do for a long time. His suggestion has got nothing to do with the situation.

"Opera is as much a commercially driven organization as Microsoft."

This is irrelevant. It is attacking the messenger instead of looking at the validity of the actual complaint. But remember that Opera's business can only benefit from open standards, so what's good for Opera's business is also good for the web as a whole.

# re: Sick of Opera

Left by Mike at 12/17/2007 10:17 PM

Maybe you should stick to climbing mountains?

# re: Sick of Opera

Left by Simon Houston at 12/17/2007 10:34 PM

Did simone ever try opera recently before making this comment? I'm sick of people with baseless ranting because people read what they want to read. Opera has been freeware for over 2 years now.

The main point of the complaint is to stop the "one web, one browser" model, that Microsoft has been continuously advocating over the years with incomplete web standards support in addition to making up non-standards with lack of documentation of how browser developers should render it.

This anti-trust complaint will benefit firefox as well as opera, so it isn't just operas intent.

# re: Sick of Opera

Left by Doug at 12/17/2007 11:23 PM

I haven't tried Opera personally but I always find it laughable that there are so many Microsoft apologists who will attack anyone or anything that tries to defy Microsoft. Is Microsoft evil? No, it's a business. But as a rpevious poster pointed out, Microsoft has a one browser one model view of the web. Considering that IE impedes my ability to fully use the web I prefer choice.

The argument is then made (by Microsoft defenders) that consumers don't wnat to mess around with installing software. Well that's a Microsoft built crutch. If Microsoft didn't include "everything and the kitchen sink" then users would gain the confidence and ability to install different software.

So is it silly to ahve Opera want Microsoft to remove IE? Yes, I would agree that it is. Is it silly for them to expect Microsoft to comply with Standards? No.

# re: Sick of Opera

Left by Simone at 12/18/2007 11:02 AM

Just making one big answer:
thank you to all the ones that made light on the business model of Opera.

Then, I'm not arguing whether Opera or Firefox are a better choise that IE, I'm using Firefox in fact, but just that Opera tried to make use of the law to get more market share.
Firefox is an example of how a good browser can gain usage even without complaining about other browser being too successful. Mozilla is now 30% of the users, and gained his position only being good and with a very effective marketing campaign.
Anyway if they were really interested in open market they should also file a complaint against Apple since Safari is boundled with Mac OS X, or even with any of the Linux distro since they all boundle a browser with thier version of Linux.

And, to those who says that "doubt my mental capacity" because I don't see the link between the official PR and the CTO's letter, I want to say that they are related, but the formal complaint focuses almost only on the anti-trust issue and as side note about the web standard support, while the open letter to the web community is the other way around.

And last, please, if you insult me, at least have to courage to use your real email address, not foobar or Mike or John Doe, thank you.

# re: Sick of Opera

Left by Andrew D at 12/18/2007 12:02 PM

What a load of rubbish, Simone.

"Opera tried to make use of the law to get more market share."

Simplistic piffle to try and reduce done an attempt to reduce anticompetitive monopolistic behaviour as trying to get more market share.

It staggers me the amount of Firefox/Mozilla types that are acting as louder shills for Microsoft than *any* Microsoft using people I've seen online.

It's truly terrible to see some within the Firefox crowd acting as such cheerleaders for Microsoft.

I'm sure Asa with his pathological hatred of Opera is proud of you all though.

# re: Sick of Opera

Left by Simon Houston at 12/18/2007 12:18 PM

Yes, some people might think Opera is doing this for the sake of itself on desktop, however think about this:

-- Many web developers develop for one browser only, thats IE, market leader for browsers but also the company is market leader for operating systems. Its suicide to develop not in IE without testing it in IE.

-- If MicroSoft supported web standards correctly then it'd save hours of time, as he/she wouldn't need to test anywhere else. However MicroSoft don't, so lots of time wasted trying to make the site work in other browsers.

-- The whole point of this complaint is to have a web rendered correctly without browser vendors worrying about how to tackle non-standard coding practices

# re: Sick of Opera

Left by Simone at 12/18/2007 12:35 PM

@Simon: if developers design only for IE it's their problem, since Firefox now has 30% of the market share.
MS is getting his browser to be more compliant to the standards. Now almost all the browsers support kind of all the most common specs. And the problem is not only IE. Even if FF and Opera both support the same specs, they implement them slightly differently, and the same happens with Safari on the Mac.

Also remember that MS is a huge company, with lots of developers and multi-year plans, so is less "agile" than Opera which is a small company or Mozilla which is an OpenSource project in implementing and incorporating new specs inside his products.

If we really wanted full compliance, like also same performances in interpreting and executing javascript, we should have only one rendering engine, only one javascript sandbox, jointly developed by Mozilla, Apple, Opera, Microsoft and the W3C, and used by all the browsers.
At this point the version of the browser will not be relevant anymore, as the browser will only be a skin around the rendering engine.

# re: Sick of Opera

Left by Justin at 12/18/2007 1:49 PM

On paper only having 1 rendering engine sounds great. It would certainly simplify development but what about competition? What about innovation. I think we would find that new features and advancements would be a lot slower coming without competition and pressure from other vendors.

# re: Sick of Opera

Left by Joe Brinkman at 12/18/2007 2:36 PM

@Justin: Competition and innovation are not to be tolerated. You must implement the standard spec and only the standard spec. Even if none of the web users give a crap.

Everyone talks about Microsoft being some borg collective where everyone must think exactly alike, whereas that is exactly what the standards fanboys have become. After they are done mandating the standards that MUST be adhered to in the web space, they'll start working on those damn electronics companies. They have the nerve to have two different and totally incompatible Hi-Def DVD players. That simply cannot be tolerated. Blu-Ray must die.

I can totally see Opera's point on having IE installed and how it prevents people from installing other browsers. Heck. I am forced to do all my word processing on Notepad since it is also pre-installed and I couldn't possibly just install a new piece of software. Way to difficult. Have you seen how difficult it is to change the default application for opening a text file in anything other than notepad.

# re: Sick of Opera

Left by Simone at 12/18/2007 2:45 PM

@Justin: competition will only be around the features that the browser provides besides the rendering engine, like password management, auto-complete, spell-check, add-ons, debugging support, and so on.
There is no point in having competition in the features supported by the rendering engines of the browsers as this will mean there will not a standard.

# re: Sick of Opera

Left by Jordan M. at 12/18/2007 3:53 PM

@Simone

I'd just like to point out from a web developer's point of view, it really is a pain in my arse to develop for IE, and in between IE 6 and IE 7 (which took 5 years, by the way, what the hell?), the improvements to the rendering engine have been almost nil. The Same stupid CSS hacks are being used, the same spending hours to hack up the site to get it running in IE. The same except I have a NEW set of hacks to incorporate, too. Hacks for IE 6, and IE 7. I don't WANT to write hacks. I would have no problem with IE if it would just comply to standards, but it constantly makes my life difficult by not sticking to the clearly defined and widely accepted standards. The user may not be able to tell the difference from the end product, but it's quite annoying for the developer aiming for a website that anyone can just go to and use. Microsoft needs to clean up their act, or get out, as they've shown almost NO progress in CSS rendering and their implementation of javascript between the last 2 versions.

# re: Sick of Opera

Left by grimen at 12/18/2007 7:29 PM

Somebody is riding something... How come this post showed up on Dotnetkicks?! I want to kick the author, not the blog.

# re: Sick of Opera

Left by JackInTheBox at 12/18/2007 8:36 PM

Simone:

"Opera tried to make use of the law to get more market share."

Stop making these useless assumptions. Opera wants to be able to compete on equal terms.

"Firefox is an example of how a good browser can gain usage even without complaining about other browser being too successful. Mozilla is now 30% of the users"

No, Firefox is about 15-20% worldwide. Are you really saying that if Firefox and IE competed on equal terms, that Firefox would have a mere 15-20% market share? That's quite amazing!

"Anyway if they were really interested in open market they should also file a complaint against Apple since Safari is boundled with Mac OS X, or even with any of the Linux distro since they all boundle a browser with thier version of Linux."

Are you joking? Since when did Apple or Linux distributions have a dominant position in the desktop market? Since when ahve they leveraged that position to prevent competition in the browser market?

"the formal complaint focuses almost only on the anti-trust issue and as side note about the web standard support"

The web standards support is the anti-trust issue. Seriously, are you just trolling or what?

"MS is getting his browser to be more compliant to the standards."

Not according to the recent development where evidence has surfaced that Microsoft is actively trying to ruin both the new JavaScript and CSS standards.

"If we really wanted full compliance, like also same performances in interpreting and executing javascript, we should have only one rendering engine, only one javascript sandbox, jointly developed by Mozilla, Apple, Opera, Microsoft and the W3C, and used by all the browsers."

No, we should not.


Joe Brinkman:

"Everyone talks about Microsoft being some borg collective where everyone must think exactly alike"

Nope. But the management at Microsoft decides what the company ultimately does.

"whereas that is exactly what the standards fanboys have become."

The standards fanboys? Who are they? The people who believe that open standards are the way to go? As opposed to the Microsoft shills who think monopolies are great, and that Microsoft can do no wrong?

"They have the nerve to have two different and totally incompatible Hi-Def DVD players."

Yes, in fact, this is a bad thing for the consumer. But it is not illegal, unlike anti-competitive practices. Still, only one HD format would be beneficial to the consumer.

# re: Sick of Opera

Left by Ellery at 12/18/2007 9:09 PM

Opera wants to use the law to gain market share. Period. That's like Mozilla forcing Apple to pre-install FF - or for me to develop my own browser and force Redhat to pre-install my browser. FF has brough competition back to the browser by doing a great job. If Opera wants to stay relevant, then they should do so by coding, not bitching. I've sued FF from day 1, although nowadays I use IE7 too because of better printing features and because it doesn't have the ridiculous leaks FF has. Opera needs to develop a killer feature to stay relevant, or just go away.

I wish I only had to use one browser, but I'm forced to use both FF & IE7 because their individual features.

# re: Sick of Opera

Left by Ruudjah at 12/19/2007 12:53 AM

Simone, get your facts straight before ranting. First of all, saying that FF has a market share of 30% is just plain not true. According to wikipedia, it is about 13%, based on July 2007 facts, of WORLDWIDE use. Off course, there are countries in where this percentage is higher.

Second, Opera always offered a FREE version (before 2005 with ads, after that without ads).

Third, and you can dispute about this, but FireFox did not have an 'effective marketing campaign'. In fact, FireFox' popularity is more due to the fact that it is safe and free, easy to install and standards compliant (which webdesigners like). Furthermore, with 'effective marketing campaign' you might mean the spread-the-word way of getting people to know FF. I do not have a source, but I am quite sure the Mozilla foundation did not spend more then, say, $ 10M for marketing. This amount is tiny compared to the marketing of Internet Explorer, which *started* with $ 1 Billion. Hereby I am referring to the marketing budget windows 95 had when it was introduced. Off course, that money was spend also for windows itself, but it is important to state that in that time Microsoft was in a heavy fight with Netscape. And now I am not even counting the money Microsoft spend for windows 98, ME, 2000, NT, XP, Vista, 2003... all which include Internet Explorer.
One might also say that money is not a good way to compare 'effective marketing campaigns'. Indisputable though is the fact that money has a severe impact.

Fourth, and this is already pointed out but I want to add something here. The business model of Opera is the same of FireFox'. With this exception, that they create a core which is used in Opera Mobile and Opera WII (Yes, Nintendo WII uses Opera). They sell the mobile version and indirectly sell also the WII version (by gaining money from Nintendo). My earlier statement that Opera is free and was free is used for the desktop (MAC, Linux, Windows) version of Opera.

You got more facts wrong, but these are already pointed out by other commenters. Next time, when trying to make an intelligent blog post, do some research before sprouting crap.

You also say that Opera tries to use the law to gain more market share, that is the (a) point of your story. Opera has been saying since the beginning that IE should use open standards and be standard compliant. Now that they found a way to legally force this, you are saying that they just do this 'to gain more market share'. Bullshit. Opera does not have a double agenda like Microsoft. Well, at least, they have not proven so.

# re: Sick of Opera

Left by JackInTheBox at 12/20/2007 12:14 AM

Opera wants to use the law to gain market share. Period.


Wrong. It wants proper competition. It wants to be able to actually compete with MSIE.

That's like Mozilla forcing Apple to pre-install FF


Wrong again. Apple is not dominant in the desktop market, and is not violating web standards to lock out competitors. In fact, Safari is standards compliant.

FF has brough competition back to the browser by doing a great job.


Firefox has about 15% of the market, and that's after a decade of fighting for it. Are you really saying that if there was actual competition, IE would still have 80% and Firefox 15%?

I wish I only had to use one browser, but I'm forced to use both FF & IE7 because their individual features.

You just proved Opera's point.

# re: Sick of Opera

Left by Opera Fan at 12/21/2007 12:35 PM

Offtopic:
I would really like to see the "opera haters" to try out that browser and to acknowledge that this is a good product. Maybe this will open those narrow minds and they will understand why it is a good thing to switch to IE-alternatives like firefox or opera.

# re: Sick of Opera

Left by Simone at 12/21/2007 12:53 PM

Maybe I didn't make myself clear enough: I DO use "alternative" browsers, I use Firefox as browser of choice and Safari some other time.
The point is not whether a browser is better than the other, but that Opera went out crying for help from the law, and communicated this in the different ways to 2 different audience, leveraging the lack of support to standards when speaking to developers (which, by the way is not a matter any more since now IE8 supports all the standards as Opera and Safari and Firefox3), and raisine the abuse of dominant position in the real complaint.

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