Opera vs Microsoft Reprise | January 2, 2008
Thanks for all the fantastic comments on my previous post about Opera’s complaint to the European Commission. Sorry it’s taken a while to post a follow-up, but I moved house over the holidays and BT haven’t sorted out my Internet connection yet. Anyway, I’ll try to address some of the issues that were raised in the comments, but apologies if I miss anything out.
I personally believe that Microsoft have been doing a great job over the last couple of years brining their browser up to scratch. IE7 still has a few issues, but then again, what browser doesn’t? So I honestly think IE is pretty comparable with its competition in regards to current standards support. Future standards support is another issue, but I’ll cover that in a future post.
As a quick aside, the concept of “fully standards complaint” is a tricky one and the reason why CSS2.1 is taking so long to finish. The CSS2 specification was very loose and didn’t cover error handling or fall-back cases. As such, each browser took it’s own stance and you ended up with them technically following the spec while at the same time behaving differently. CSS2.1 attempts to address this problem by defining these niche issues, but as you can imagine it’s taking a long time.
I agree that IE7 is a much more capable browser these days, so many of the concerns developers have about Microsoft’s market dominance have vanished. This is one reason why I think Opera should remove the issue of standards support from their complaint. This leaves the complaint purely about monopolistic business practices which, from the content of your comments on my previous post, people seem less concerned about. This makes perfect sense as we’re mostly concerned with making our lives and the lives of our users easier, rather than worrying about the ethics of global business.
However on the ethics side, I think it’s important to make the distinction between people not being able to pre-install a different browser on their machines and simply not wanting to. I agree that most hardware manufacturers would probably stick with IE as, like a few people mentioned, that’s what most home users expect. However surely manufacturers should have the right to install whatever browser they want on their hardware? I could definitely see a case where manufacturers would try to distinguish themselves through the software they bundle with their machines. And I could foresee large companies such as IBM buying computers pre-installed with Firefox rather than IE.
The issue isn’t about supplying a PC to end users that doesn’t come with a browser pre-installed. That would obviously be stupid. The issue is about allowing computer manufacturers, and by extension their end users, to choose what browser or browsers come pre-installed. Whether people choose to exercise that right is another matter.
Posted at January 2, 2008 3:43 PM