Opera: IE8's changes don't let Microsoft off legal hook

But both Mozilla and Opera praise aspects of the new competition

"IE8's default is a demonstration of [Microsoft's new] interoperability principles in action," he said in a post to the IE team's blog. "While we do not believe any current legal requirements would dictate which rendering mode a browser must use, this step clearly removes this question as a potential legal and regulatory issue."

Lie wasn't convinced. "We have brought up several technical issues in IE in our discussions with the Commission, and only two of them have been partly addressed," he said. The five issues Lie listed include:

  • Fully complying with Acid2 and Acid3 standards tests.
  • Supporting the specifications underlying the Acid tests.
  • Providing documentation on how IE implements standards.
  • Dropping version targeting.
  • Committing to interoperability by promising to add support for standards that two or more major browsers implement.

"IE8, by supporting Acid2 and triggering standards mode like other browsers, partly addresses 1 and 4," said Lie. "But the other points remain."

Mozilla's Shaver also noticed the legal tidbit in Hachamovitch's Monday blog, and agreed with Lie that the comments were probably directed at the EU's antitrust regulators. "It's much more likely that they're referencing the Opera suit than that they're talking about Microsoft representatives' previous claims of lawsuit risk stemming from changes in new product versions," said Shaver, referring to comments he made last month about how some Microsoft managers believed they might be financially liable if they made changes to IE that "broke" sites.

But Shaver also lauded Microsoft for seeing the error of its ways. "Bravo and thanks to Microsoft for listening genuinely and making a change that I think will have a very positive effect on standards-based content on the Web," he said.

Lie, though perhaps not as optimistic about what the changes in IE8 meant long-term, sounded ready to give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt. "I hope that Microsoft will continue to have a constructive attitude, that they will work with other browser vendors to support Acid3 and that they commit to interoperability," Lie said.

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Gregg Keizer

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