Open source champion and industry darling Mozilla Corporation has joined the European Commission's demand that Microsoft remove its Internet Explorer (IE) browser from Windows. Citing, decades old abuses that have already been rectified, Mozilla says that Microsoft's attempts to harm competition in the Web browser market have had ongoing effects. The company will now submit arguments in the EU antitrust case against the software giant.
"The damage Microsoft has done to competition, innovation, and the pace of the web development itself is both glaring and ongoing," Mozilla chairperson Mitchell Baker wrote in a blog post this week. "Microsoft's business practices have fundamentally diminished (in fact, came very close to eliminating) competition, choice and innovation in how people access the Internet."
That's quite a statement, coming as it does from a representative of a company that makes a product that has made massive usage share gains against the Microsoft product in question over the past year. Mozilla Firefox now controls 21 percent of the browser market, up from 18 percent in May 2008. Meanwhile, Microsoft Internet Explorer fell from 74 percent of the market to 68 percent in the same time period.
Delving a little deeper into Baker's post, however, it's pretty clear that she--like Opera, the EU, and virtually everyone else that's currently allied against Microsoft, is more concerned with the past than the present. She discusses Microsoft's development of IE back in the mid-1990s as well as its "illegal activities" in promoting the browser at the time, and its abandonment of browser development after the competition dried up.'
Fair enough. All of these things did happen. But in the years since, the free Firefox browser has continually eaten away at IE's usage share, and this happened despite Microsoft's renewed attention to IE. Mozilla's success highlights exactly why the browser complaints against Microsoft are pure fiction: Competition has thrived in the browser market in recent years, and new browser makers--like Apple and Google--have appeared as well.
"I believe it's worth some effort to try to figure out an effective and timely remedy," she adds. "The drag on innovation and choice caused by Microsoft's actions remains. If the EC can identify an effective remedy that also serves to improve competition, innovation and choice, I would find it most welcome."