Opera denies Microsoft takeover

Norweigian browser vendor says it hasn't been approached by Microsoft--or anyone else.

Opera has denied the latest takeover rumor spreading across the Internet, saying that it has not had approaches from Microsoft or anyone else.

Rumors surfaced on Friday that Microsoft is close to completing a takeover offer for the Norwegian browser vendor, having outbid Google.

"Our phones have been ringing off the hook," a representative for Opera said Friday. "But it's not true. We have not been bought, and we have not received any offers. It's just a rumor, like the Google rumor last week."

If Microsoft were to buy Opera it would effectively reduce the battle for browsers on Windows PCs to two contenders: Microsoft and the Mozilla Foundation.

Opera's market share has languished at less than 1 percent, compared with Firefox's 7.55 percent and Internet Explorer's 86.9 percent. However, Opera's mobile browser is installed on a growing number of mobile devices, and the company says that downloads of its desktop browser quadrupled after it launched the free version 8.5 in October.

Matt Loney of ZDNet UK reported from London.