Opera gains after Microsoft starts showing Web browser choice screen

Not even 20 days have lapsed since Microsoft started offering (limited showing since mid feb and full rollout since march 1) a “Web browser choice screen” to Internet Explorer users in Europe, as required by the European Commission; but results are already showing.
Browser maker Opera said on Wednesday it had seen a surge in downloads of its browser after Microsoft started making it easier for Europeans to choose smaller rivals' browsers. Since choice screen roll out, Opera downloads have more than tripled in major European countries, such as Belgium, France, Spain, Poland and the UK.

Encouraged by the new market dynamics, Opera launched a new version of its browser this week.

opera is among 12 browsers, including Microsoft's own Internet Explorer, Mozilla's Firefox, Apple Inc's Safari and Google Inc's Chrome, that the world's biggest software maker is showing on the more than 100 million old and new PCs that use its software.

On December 16, European Union regulators accepted Microsoft's pledge to give European consumers better access to rival Internet browsers in Windows, ending a long antitrust dispute with the U.S. software maker.

What surge in Opera downloads owing to offering choice by Microsoft points to?

It shows that monopoly does harm healthy competition. Big companies do have the power to stifle smaller players. The stifling power of big players becomes more powerful in the PC software business, where most users don’t bother to look for choices (the whole idea of a PC is to offer choices at each step) unless choices are rolled out in front of their eyes, with one click to opt in. --------