A small Norwegian software company says with a level playing field it can take on mighty Microsoft Corp. (MSFT.O: Quote, Profile, Research) in a new battle of the browsers because it has a better product, picking up where the now-defunct Netscape left off in the 1990s.
Opera, which like Microsoft and Firefox manufactures Web browsers, says the humble browser has become increasingly more important to consumers as the years have passed.
"These days people spend more time in front of their Web browser then they do in front of their television set," said Jon von Tetzchner, chief executive of Opera Software of Norway.
The company that controls Web browsers could potentially change the underlying operating system without upsetting users, because so much of what they do is on the browser.
That would threaten Windows, which enjoys a 95 percent share of operating systems on PCs worldwide.
Today people use email, do banking, make airplane and hotel reservations, read newspapers, play games, do research and look at photos and operate virtually all Google operations without leaving their browser.
At work, people submit expenses, ask for vacation time off and deal with customers on their browser.U.S. courts found nearly a decade ago that Microsoft so feared the power of the browser that it used its Windows operating system to illegally force out rival Netscape.