Their response is to mostly dismiss the whole thing:
In an interview earlier this week when the company launched IE8 RC1, senior product manager James Pratt criticized such tests. He described them as "microbenchmarks" that place an emphasis on scores as a "drag race" that Microsoft isn't about to enter.
Microsoft may simply be in denial on this one. What we are seeing here at Opera is that more and more application development is taking place using Web technologies. The browser is becoming the application platform of choice, especially in the mobile space where technologies like Opera's Widgets can be used to develop applications with a short time to market, and with less development effort.
Indeed, the upcoming Palm Pre smartphone is an innovative device in that its operating system, webOS, uses open Web technologies for application development. This is a step up from Opera's widgets. It takes things to a whole new level. No, really, massive Kudos to Palm for this move! And thanks for helping us push Opera's message 🙂
In an environment where open Web standards become the application development of choice, it goes without saying that increased performance is needed. More and more people will also be accessing the Web from limited devices, which means that even small performance increases on a PC can have a major impact on lower-end platforms.
From this perspective, things are looking bleak for Microsoft. Their response to the performance race is to dismiss it, and their response to a new generation of groundbreaking mobile browsers like Safari, Opera and Fennec is to build their "new" mobile browser on technology which is nearly ten years old.