Microsoft Not Acquiring Opera

Despite a recommendation by infamous tech pundit John C. Dvorak and rumors of a near-complete deal, Opera Software on Friday said it was not being acquired by Microsoft. Opera also says a rumor last week that Google was an interested suitor is just as false. But that hasn't stopped a barrage of opinions.

"This is a good move for the folks at Opera. For Microsoft, it's a very good move," said Jupiter Research vice president Michael Gartenberg before the clarification from Opera. "It gives them some excellent technologies they can incorporate into IE and that can help serve them well in their battles with Firefox."

"It also boosts their mobile technologies a great deal. There's no doubt that Opera on WM 5 is a far better browser experience and it also allows Microsoft to push IE down to other phone platforms via the Java version of Opera Mini," Gartenberg added. "Finally, it keeps Opera away from Google, which might have had similar plans to use the technology in just that way."

However, even though Opera says it has received no offers, fellow Jupiter analyst Joe Wilcox notes the browser space is heating up quick.

"There is plenty of talk about Microsoft competing with Google or even AOL and Yahoo. But the real competitor is elsewhere. The big advertising spending goes into the offline bucket, such as television. But more of that money is beginning to trickle into the online bucket," explained Wilcox. "Microsoft and Google competition or even the AOL and Google deal really is about jockeying to get in front of the line with buckets outstretched to catch those dollars as they move online."

Opera, which turned freeware in September, has been struggling to get past a 1 percent market share. Its browsing technology has been touted as one of the best, but users continue to stick with Internet Explorer and newcomer Firefox, sparking rumors that Opera may be looking for an exit strategy.

And Wilcox says it wouldn't be surprising that Microsoft is interested. "The browser is one the major means by which online advertising will reach consumer. Where there's money to be made, there's fire. And browser competition is red hot."

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