Microsoft's recent decision to ship its upcoming Internet Explorer (IE) 8 browser with Web standards-based rendering enabled by default does not fully answer the complaints browser competitor Opera has made with antitrust regulators in the European Union, according to Opera CTO Hakon Wium Lie. His company has outlined a set of technical issues he feels Microsoft should be forced to address by the EU. These include, among other things, that IE 8 fully comply with the Acid2 standards test.
"IE 8, by supporting Acid2 and triggering standards mode like other browsers, partly addresses \[our complaints\]," he said. "But the other points remain."
These other points include such things as Microsoft documenting IE's support of standards, supporting standards that are also supported by two or more browser competitors, and documenting how its browsers do pass the Acid2 test, if they do. Opera's complaint, which seems like a throwback to the US antitrust suit against Microsoft from almost a decade ago, alleges that Microsoft's bundling of IE with Windows is illegal.
In announcing its decision to ship IE 8 with a default Web standards rendering mode last week, a move that reversed an earlier decision not to do so, Microsoft specifically noted the legal ramifications of this change of heart. "While we do not believe there are currently any legal requirements that would dictate which rendering mode must be chosen as the default for a given browser," Microsoft senior vice president and general counsel Brad Smith, said at the time, "this step clearly removes this question as a potential legal and regulatory issue."
Microsoft is eager to put its antitrust problems behind it. Unfortunately, Opera and other Microsoft competitors have found eager and willing compatriots in the EU's European Commission, which has opened three new antitrust investigations against the software giant over the past several months.