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Microsoft Internet Explorer Mozilla Netscape The Courts United States

Internet Explorer Antitrust Case Set To Expire 176

Posted by timothy
from the all-seeing-and-wise-benevolent-gov't-saved-us dept.
jbrodkin writes "The judgment in United States vs. Microsoft is on the verge of expiring, nearly a decade after antitrust officials ruled Microsoft unfairly limited competition against its Internet Explorer browser. Microsoft has two more weeks to fulfill the final requirements in the antitrust case, which is scheduled to expire on May 12. Although Netscape ultimately didn't benefit, the settlement seems to have done its job. From a peak of 95% market share, by some estimates Internet Explorer now has less than half of the browser market. Microsoft, of course, filed its own antitrust action against Google this week, and even commented publicly on the irony of its doing so, noting that Microsoft has 'spent more than a decade wearing the shoe on the other foot.'"
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Internet Explorer Antitrust Case Set To Expire

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  • by mfh (56) on Friday April 01, 2011 @12:09AM (#35685542) Journal

    Microsoft does some things right and other things really wrong, but never only one or the other... their forced efforts are always a sad uneven mixture of the two.

    IE has always been terrible. Perhaps when Netscape was just starting out, IE may have been somewhat better from a UI standpoint only, with fancy hooks into the OS of the day... but standards trump bells and whistles and IE cannot compete against browsers coded correctly. This is typically because the philosophy of these other products available is to create something that delivers web content safely, rather than trying to control the internet by stifling web development into a proprietary lock-in scheme designed to generate wealth rather than deliver what people want.

  • by TheLink (130905) on Friday April 01, 2011 @12:10AM (#35685558) Journal
    Yeah back then Netscape was actually WORSE than IE.

    Microsoft may have stepped on their toes, but Netscape themselves were to blame for blowing away their own feet.

    I used Netscape from 1.x till 4.7. And at the ending stages Netscape was inferior. It was slower in rendering and crashed more. Trust me I tried to look for alternatives to IE at that time.

    Mozilla and Mozilla based versions of Netscape (e.g. Netscape 6) were crap too and not worth the megabytes of download. I tried Opera too but it just didn't fit with the way I did things back then.

    Mozilla only got usable a few years ago (2005? 2006? Barely usable too - still had many memory issues back then) and that's when it started gaining marketshare.

    If you think I'm trolling or talking shit, just look at Google Chome - it has gained so much share in a far far shorter time than Mozilla took.

    Even nontechs/nonnerds are downloading and installing Google Chrome and recommending it to their friends.

    FWIW, I'm currently using Mozilla for TreeStyleTabs, Noscript, Adblock Plus and Certificate Patrol :).
  • by ehrichweiss (706417) * on Friday April 01, 2011 @12:11AM (#35685564)

    I don't know if I need to remind you but Netscape was essentially Mozilla's code and they even said it in the EULA around 1994 or 95: "Remember, it's spelled N-E-T-S-C-A-P-E but it's pronounced 'Mozilla'"

  • by RoFLKOPTr (1294290) on Friday April 01, 2011 @12:23AM (#35685622)

    I don't know if I need to remind you but Netscape was essentially Mozilla's code and they even said it in the EULA around 1994 or 95: "Remember, it's spelled N-E-T-S-C-A-P-E but it's pronounced 'Mozilla'"

    Netscape was Netscape Communications' code. "Mozilla" was simply a codename (and useragent) for the browser back in the day. When I said "before Mozilla came along" I was referring to when Netscape essentially died and forked off into what was formally and officially called Mozilla which later split into Firefox et al.

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday April 01, 2011 @12:41AM (#35685698) Homepage Journal

    Microsoft should have been split into 3 companies, but when George W. Bush rolled into Washington DC, he viewed every Clinton move as garbage and disregarded it. Really would have been a good thing for Microsoft, in the long run, one of the three was bound to ditch the crappy OS and build a better one without all the legacy garbage and bundling everyone's products for free.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday April 01, 2011 @01:14AM (#35685820) Journal

    The settlement did nothing. It was Mozilla and Firefox which revived competition in the browser market.

    Well, that's kinda the point, isn't it? Anti-competition measures, by their very definition, enable others to fairly compete on their merits without being strangled by monopolies. For Netscape it was already too late, and they weren't actually better than IE5+, even once the barriers were removed. When something that was better did finally appear (Mozilla, and ultimately Firefox), it competed on its merits - and the result is most impressive.

    Oh, and Opera? In the relevant time period this was Opera 5 & 6. Back then it was a good browser - very fast, certainly, and with a nice set of UI features - but in terms of supporting newer web standards it was even worse than IE6 (which was actually pretty good at the time it was released... it just stagnated quick afterwards).

  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gma i l . com> on Friday April 01, 2011 @01:26AM (#35685874) Journal

    But their code was absolute shite until they forked it as F/OSS as Mozilla. I know the theory loved by the tinfoil hat wearing crowd here is poor wittle Netscape beaten to death by the big bad MSFT, but you know what? Speaking for myself and the countless greybeards that had been actual customers of NS (hell I probably still got my NS4 disc in one of my storage lockers somewhere) who all ended up switching to IE I can tell you that it wasn't that we liked IE per se, it was that NS 4 was shit. It wasn't even a good hearty morning log, it was a weak runny stream of foul smelling shit after a bad illness kind of shit.

    Here, let me do my impression of running NS4 for all those that didn't have the "enjoyment" of running it back in its day: "Oh look I got my shotgunned modems all screaming, I got Win98 stripped down and humming like a tweaked out Chevy, i'm good to go baby yeah! Let me just fire up my new NS4.../NS4 crashes hard/...Huh. Probably just a glitch, it happens. So I'll just fire up NS4 and head to my favorite.../NS4 locks up/...Motherfucker! Maybe the site just has some bad code on it, wouldn't surprise me. So I'll just relaunch and choose a different site and.../NS4 crashes hard and BSODs OS with it/ $&^%$^%$&^$&^$!

    And THAT, that right there, is why IE won. NS4 was a buggy pile of total shit and by the time they got the bugs ironed out enough for the product to actually be usable nobody used it anymore. Just like the old DBase II they released half assed not ready for alpha testing code and paid the price.

    Was MSFT douchebags? Yep, old Bill was a nerd that had been shoved into too many lockers and took everything as a "kill crush destroy!" mandate, but NS wouldn't have disappeared so quickly if it had actually been anything but poo. look up MSFT talking about IE 4, which was before they had bundled anything, and you'll see them talking about how it was a fight to keep the server from overloading and how they were sending out over 150,000 copies on CD weekly. They were getting slammed because people were going out of their way to get IE and get off NS because the simple fact is in EVERY single way hat counts to an end user IE was better. It was faster, it was more stable, it used less memory at a time when 16Mb was common, and for awhile there it was even more standards compliant (anybody remember the NS blink tag?).

    So lets give credit where credit was due, it was the Moz foundation that took the steaming pile of poo that was NS and hammered it into something usable by the masses. It took them awhile, and they had some serious growing pains like the 2.x.x branch memory leaks, but thanks to them we now have a wealth of choices, all for free. We have the Gecko based like Seamonkey, FF, and Kmeleon, we have the Chromium/Webkit based like Chrome, Comodo Dragon, SWIron, Chromium, Safari, and finally we have Presto in Opera that most people forget before Mozilla made third party browsers free was a for pay product.

    So thanks Moz, while my users are in the process of being switched over to Chromium based Dragon for performance and security reason you still made non IE browsers free for the masses and gave us a wealth of choice. Thanks.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 01, 2011 @02:29AM (#35686042)

    BSODding an OS tells something about the host OS too.

  • by LostMyBeaver (1226054) on Friday April 01, 2011 @03:02AM (#35686200)
    I have to say that Netscape was our best friend. Their code has become such crap that it gave us the chance to not only catch up, but to run free.

    Frankly, the lawsuit mentioned was one of the worst things ever to happen to many other companies. Mac, Linux and everyone else was completely left without a browser capable of performing online banking, reading news sites etc... The lawsuit caused Netscape to become a litigation company and their development just fell to pieces. Their server packages were amazingly bad and the day they added Javascript support and "layers" to their browser, everything just fell to pieces.

    That left it up to us to come in and make waves. We became "the other browser" sure, our market share at the time sucked. Lars Knoll was still working on the first release of his amazing code.... imagine a browser written in such a way that the code was readable and manageable. But, what it really came down to is, Netscape's focus on litigation damn near ruined the entire computer market for anyone that wasn't willing to simply just become another Microsoft shop.

    You want to know what REALLY killed BeOS? It was Netscape. We were too small to make the BeOS version, so we used a small Swedish company run by a group of incredibly bright and talented developers. Even now, years after Opera bought that company, the VP of engineering is the guy who ran that group, the guys making the screaming fast rendering contexts and other technologies which keep Opera in the top two at all times really has a lot to do with those guys. But, we just didn't have the resources to do it back then. As a result, Be would either have to make their own browser (they didn't have the manpower or inclination) or Netscape could have made one. But, without a reasonable browser, users had to reboot their machine into Windows to be able to run IE or Netscape to surf the web.

    The world has changed... you can port FireFox or WebKit to a new platform in days (for a crap build, but still functional), if you can interest Opera (which typically isn't hard to do) they can port to a new platform as quickly as they can write a handful of classes and a new Makefile. The reason IE has lost market share isn't because the lawsuit did anything, it's because the other browsers are all equal to or better than IE.

    That said, WebKit has become so good as of late that if Microsoft didn't have to support all the IE infrastructure that they do, switching to WebKit would be a great idea for them. Oh... well, there is another catch to that. If they did that, the whole world would be in an uproar complaining about how Microsoft is trying to be WebKit by absorbing it etc...

    I don't think however that Microsoft is bothering to compete with other browsers anymore. Their developers have a competitive spirit and should, and they should be proud of what they manage to accomplish, but Microsoft doesn't really benefit at all from competing with other browser now. What's the market case for it? Really, there are now 3 great browsers on Windows (Opera, Chrome, FireFox) and Internet Explorer. They are all getting faster and faster, getting more features, the standard web can now do most of what needs to be done without non-standard extensions, in 5 more years, the web standards might even be as capable as Flash Player. There will always be a need for plug-ins if for no other reason but DRM. But, let's face it, Silverlight was proof that Microsoft isn't trying to alter the basics of the web anymore. They're not trying to make new Microsoft only extensions to the standards, but instead decided that a plug-in which could be run on all browsers would be good enough instead.

    Oh, and Chrome and others let you even choose Bing and stuff over Google if you choose to. So, Microsoft still makes their money no matter what browser you use, even if it's Safari (why would anyone use that?) on Mac with Bing.

    So, the business case for competing with the other browser vendors is just not there anymore. Internet Explorer is just another p
  • by wvmarle (1070040) on Friday April 01, 2011 @03:14AM (#35686246)

    (anybody remember the NS blink tag?)

    You mean that was not an html standard? I didn't know. And boy do I remember that... horrible. Makes the text involved so hard to read, especially when used on not a single word but a complete paragraph. My regard of the html standards board just went up :) At least they didn't invent that horror.

  • Re:wrong (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 01, 2011 @04:20AM (#35686448)
    No they couldn't give you a machine without a windows license, there was certainly nothing stopping them giving you a windows and OS/2 license as many of them at the time did, however the true issue was who the hell wants to pay for 2 OS's, the MS maneurve was certainly anti competitive but there was nothing stopping an OEM from shipping both apart from cost.

    incidently OS/2 was not crushed from that, OS/2 was crushed as it was a resource PIG when computer resources were at a premium, and I say that as someone that loved it, used it and even convinced my then employer to convert our apps to it.

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