Microsoft browser rivals rattle anti-trust sabres over Windows 7

7 May 2009

Browser rivals Mozilla and Opera have begun raising fresh complaints against Microsoft alleging anti-competitive behaviour, following the release of the latest trial versions of the forthcoming Windows 7 operating system.

According to a report in today’s Financial Times, the browser firms said the latest release candidate for Windows 7 gives Microsoft’s own browser Internet Explorer 8, which was also released lately, an unfair advantage.

This is exactly the sort of headache that Microsoft needs to avoid as it tackles a fresh round of anti-trust actions from the European Commission.

Microsoft is understood to have rejected the claims, stating the new version of Windows 7 is only a test version aimed at limited experienced audiences.

Mitchell Baker, chairwoman of Mozilla, said that a first-look at the release candidate was a blatant use of the Windows operating system to change the market dynamics of browser usage.

The chief technology officer of Norwegian software firm Opera, Hakon Wium Lie, echoed Baker’s comments on how Microsoft’s Windows monopoly is damaging competition in the browser market.

The rivals have claimed PC users who upgrade to the new operating system will have Internet Explorer 8 automatically set as their default web browser.

But Microsoft has defended this, saying it only applied to the recommended method of installing the test version of Windows 7.

By John Kennedy