Don't forget the cloud
Thomas's responses to previous defenders of Microsoft are very good and well-informed.
It's sad that nonsense should continue to be posted after that. I'm particularly thinking of the Anonymous Coward who posted about "Linux jihadists". What's in question here, what's before the EU, is browsers not operating systems.
One aspect that I think has been missed in the discussion is that:
"In its original complaint, Opera also accused Microsoft of stymieing the development of Web standards by forcing site designers to adhere to IE's own implementation of certain protocols."
Now if Microsoft is able to control the browser most users use, through its control of the operating system (and its hold over OEMs, including the sanctions it's able to bring to bear on those distribute anything else) then it indirectly controls how websites are written. This means:
(a) that it can lock users into IE - and hence Windows. In other words, it can use its market domination with Windows to push IE and then use IE round the other way to keep users on Windows.
And (b) that it can exercise control over the increasingly important area of web applications.
Even Joel Spolsky, who used to work at Microsoft and most often acts as a defender for them has admitted that part of the purpose of pushing Netscape out of the market was to protect MS's desktop-based applications from the threat of web applications. Furthermore, he adds:
"The Internet Explorer team seems to have disappeared; they have been completely missing in action for several years. There's no way Microsoft is going to allow DHTML to get any better than it already is: it's just too dangerous to their core business, the rich client."
Note this was written in 2004. That was then; this is now. Now IE has been brought out of mothballs, because MS knows that web applications are coming like it or not. But IE can be used in different ways to further Microsoft's interests in the cloud. There's everything to play for there with Google offering Google docs, Yahoo offering a range of services, Apple dipping its toes in with MobileMe, and so on ...
It's important for us all that these new web applications use standards and work with any standards-compliant browser. Microsoft could use IE to derail that.
Once again. The EU is acting on a complaint from Opera Software, which it must in good faith look into. That's its job.
Once again, like the US DoJ, it is trying to prevent Microsoft from using a dominant position in one market to gain dominant positions in another (or others).