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EU Sends Mixed Signals About New Microsoft Charges

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In the News

- Will They or Won't They? EU Sends Mixed Signals About New Microsoft Charges
- Opera Frees Its Browser, Targets Firefox

==== In the News ====

by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Will They or Won't They? EU Sends Mixed Signals About New Microsoft Charges

In a confusing series of revelations, European Union (EU) trustbusters said this week that they are--or aren't--seeking further antitrust charges against Microsoft, depending on who was speaking at the time. First, the "International Herald Tribune" reported that EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes told them that the European Commission is investigating the possibility of launching new charges stemming from further complaints against Microsoft related to current and future products. However, Commission spokesperson Jonathan Todd later told Reuters that the investigative body has no plans to open a new case against the software giant.
Will they or won't they? According to the "International Herald Tribune," Kroes said that numerous companies have complained about further Microsoft abuses and that the Commission won't wait for the current antitrust case to go to court before raising new charges. "We have had informal complaints, and we are using our time now to look at them," she said. "We're not going to wait and do nothing."
Todd admitted that the Commission has received complaints about Microsoft but denied that the body will seek further charges. "The European Commission is not intending at the moment to open a new case against Microsoft," he said. "The Commission is, however, determined to ensure the proper application of the March 2004 decision and, in particular, the remedies imposed by that decision."
Microsoft, you might recall, was ordered to pay a $620 million fine, ship a version of Windows XP without Windows Media Player (WMP), and license server interoperability technologies to competitors. The company has only slowly begun to adhere to those requirements, leading to complaints that it's purposefully dragging its feet.
Asked for clarification about a possible second set of Microsoft charges, Todd later said that the Commission is leaving its options open. "We are currently in the throes of analyzing these informal complaints and the decision as to whether or not we will open up a new case against Microsoft will only be taken once we have completed our scrutiny, our examination of the information we have received," he said.

Opera Frees Its Browser, Targets Firefox

Opera Software announced today that the company is making its award-winning Opera Web browser available for free to all users. Previously, Opera offered two versions of the product: a paid version and one that was free but included in-place advertisements. Today's rerelease of Opera 8.5 signals an end to that strategy. Now the company will offer only one free version with no ads.
"Today we invite the entire Internet community to use Opera and experience Web browsing as it should be," said Jon S. von Tetzchner, Opera Software CEO. "Removing the ad banner and licensing fee will encourage many new users to discover the speed, security, and unmatched usability of the Opera browser."
Described as the fastest Web browser available on any platform, Opera pioneered several features that we now take for granted, including tabbed browsing. The latest version--code-named Merlin--is full-featured with an inline search box, a password manager, integrated security features, an integrated email and newsgroup client, and facilities for navigating its entire interface via voice or keyboard.
Opera freed its browser to better compete with Mozilla Firefox, a free browser alternative that has managed to secure more than 8 percent of the market over the past year. By comparison, Opera, which has been around for 10 years, has garnered only 1 percent to 2 percent of the overall browser market. Web browser experts have often hailed Opera's superiority to Firefox and market-leader Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), but the earlier policy of charging for the privilege of using the product turned away many users. Now Opera hopes to make up the lost income from paid users via a link to Google in the search box.

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