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Microsoft Wins — Netscape Navigator Dies (Use Firefox!) December 28, 2007

Posted by Michael in Crime, Economics.
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I used to love Netscape Navigator, and held out against Internet Explorer for as long as I could. 

The browser that helped kick-start the commercial web is to cease development because of lack of users.
Netscape Navigator, now owned by AOL, will no longer be supported after 1 February 2008, the company has said.
In the mid-1990s the browser was used by more than 90% of the web population, but numbers have slipped to just 0.6%.
In particular, the browser has faced competition from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE), which is now used by nearly 80% of all web users.

In the eyes of many, including me, Netscape was the victim of predatory and illegal practices by Microsoft.   Despite winning many concessions from Microsoft through antitrust litigation, the sunset of Navigator has been inevitable. 

The demise of Navigator was compounded in 2003 when AOL, which bought Netscape in 1998, made redundant most of the staff working on new versions of the browser.

Many of the staff moved to the Mozilla Foundation which develops the popular Firefox browser. This browser has a 16% share of the browser market.

.  .  . 

“We feel it’s the right time to end development of Netscape branded browsers, hand the reigns fully to Mozilla and encourage Netscape users to adopt Firefox,” he said.

The moral of the story — USE FIREFOX

Don’t let Microsoft get away with this.

It’s a better browser anyway.  IE7 has caught up with the tabbed browsing of Firefox, and has better RSS functionality, but Firefox still wins because of the availabiliy of useful plug-ins.  My previous endorsement of Firefox is here.

Comments»

1. Farmer Joe - December 28, 2007

In as much as Firefox is based on Netscape code, I’d have to say, “Netscape is dead. Long live Netscape”.

2. Enas Yorl - December 28, 2007

I tried firefox a few years ago – everyone kept raving about it so. Alas I had no end of problems with it and a lot of places I went to wouldn’t load properly. I mostly use IE and occasionally Opera.

3. The Comish (sic) - December 28, 2007

How’s Opera?

The only problem I’ve had with Firefox is that sometimes you can’t open videos. I understand there’s a plug-in for that, but I’m much too lazy to try and remember how to find it.

4. Michael - December 28, 2007

I understand there’s a plug-in for that, but I’m much too lazy to try and remember how to find it.

It’s here, and it works. This plug-in let’s you choose to open an IE tab from within Firefox when you have those rare occasions where a video or something else doesn’t work right without IE.

5. geoff - December 28, 2007

In the eyes of many, including me, Netscape was the victim of predatory and illegal practices by Microsoft.

Absolutely. As was WordPerfect, although the Orem folk also made at least two awful business decision of their own (1. using their own, awful, image format; 2. delaying the transition from DOS to Windows 3.1).

6. Michael - December 28, 2007

Yeah, Geoff. WordPerfect used to own the legal industry. Lawyers were, understandably, early adopters of word processing technology, and WordPerfect was the universal standard. I loved that program. It gave me a favorable impression of Mormons. 🙂

It was a wrenching change when the industry grudgingly had to finally switch to Word to accommodate the clients.

7. Sobek - December 28, 2007

I still use Word Perfect for everything that stays in the office. Anything I need to e-mail out to clients has to go to Word format first, and it’s a huge headache.

8. BrewFan - December 28, 2007

In the eyes of many, including me, Netscape was the victim of predatory and illegal practices by Microsoft.

Waaa! Waaa!

All Netscape had to do early on was give the software away and base their revenue stream on other things. But they insisted on charging for software that could be had for free elsewhere. The market kicked their ass, not Microsoft.

9. BrewFan - December 28, 2007

BTW, the same thing is happening to Microsoft now. Google is giving away software that MS charges for. Guess who’s gaining in market share in those areas?

10. geoff - December 28, 2007

But they insisted on charging for software that could be had for free elsewhere.

At that time, charging for software was the only way to go – the only reason Microsoft could afford to give it away for free was that they had a monopoly on PC operating systems. Those other revenue streams depend on the value of advertising on the internet – a value that didn’t appear until after Microsoft worked their evil magic.

11. Myron - December 28, 2007

I first went online in 1995. I used Netscape for a few years then tried Opera and used IE for a while. Started using FF at about 0.9 The only problem with FF is that it uses strict interpretation of W3C html standards. The fuckwits at MS don’t and a lot of idiots get a site running in IE and could give a shit about anything else. So like Michael, I clicks on IETab if it’s something I’m really interested in. Otherwise I move on.

12. BrewFan - December 29, 2007

At that time, charging for software was the only way to go

au contraire, mon ami. Free software has been around a long time and many companies have used alternate business models (charging for support, services, advertising, etc.) to make a lot of money from the idea. Netscape came to their senses in 1998; 3 years too late.

Microsoft could afford to give it away for free was that they had a monopoly on PC operating systems.

By 1995 they did have a monopoly but it wasn’t always that way. There used to be lots of PC OS’s and software didn’t interoperate across OS boundries so guess what? The market place didn’t like that and settled on a solution. Why blame MS for that? While their OS may not have been the best technically why do they get vilified for being good business men?

I never have understood the reason behind Microsoft bashing (outside of Larry Ellison, Steve Jobs, et al who have a financial interest in doing so). There has *always* been alternatives. I’m a consultant and I see firsthand that there are many IT departments that are ABM (anything but Microsoft) and they do just fine.

13. Dave in Texas - December 29, 2007

Firefox is for hippies.

14. geoff - December 29, 2007

au contraire, mon ami.

Naw – the turn-around in WP’s fortunes came in 1990, long before any of the free software models came forward. WordPerfect didn’t initially react to the popularity of the Windows platform, but by the time they did (with some pretty decent versions, eventually), Microsoft was effectively giving their own office suite away.

There used to be lots of PC OS’s and software didn’t interoperate across OS boundries so guess what?

I don’t care that Microsoft dominated the OS market, I care that they forced computer manufacturers to bundle their office suite (and their browser) with that operating system, effectively giving it to consumers until they drove their competition under. Then they turned around and started charging for the office suites. And I also care that they appear to have deliberately made it difficult for competing application developers to design software for Windows.

Just three years ago, Wordperfect was the world’s best-selling word processor, with more than half the market. Lotus 1-2-3, the venerable spreadsheet program, had a similar market share.

No one argues that Microsoft’s pricing strategies alone are responsible for the sharp decline of these competing suites.

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C06EEDC1538F934A15756C0A96E958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all

15. Michael - December 29, 2007

I agree with your general philosophy, Brew — MS should not be vilified just because they are aggressive and successful.

Like Geoff, my problem is that, IMO, they used their legitimate domination of the OS market to thwart competition in distinct adjacent markets. That’s illegal; in antitrust law it’s know as monopoly leveraging. The classic example from way back is IBM using it’s domination of the mainframe market to thwart competition in the market for cardboard batch cards. IIRC, the Justice Department dinged IBM for that and the case is a classic in antitrust textbooks.

16. Michael - December 29, 2007

I’m curious, BTW, to see if MS will be successful at making Windows Media Player the de facto standard, thereby dooming competitors like Realplayer and Quicktime. Due to all the litigation, MS is much more cautious these days about antitrust issues, so they may find it harder to dominate the critical media interface.

17. Bill Gates - December 29, 2007

ALL YOUR SOFTWARES ARE BELONG TO US. MAKE YOUR TIME.

18. eddiebear - December 29, 2007

To be honest, I have always found Excel to be easier than Lotus 1-2-3.

What surprises me is how many offices and companies still use Lotus Notes.

19. Michael - December 29, 2007

ALL YOUR SOFTWARES ARE BELONG TO US.

Not yet, Bill, but the software industry is indeed maturing and consolidating at a breathtaking rate. The Big Four — IBM, Microsoft, SAP and Oracle — account for a whopping 80% (!) of software industry profit worldwide (leaving piracy aside). They are each expanding outwards from different platforms and legacies (hardware, OS, ERP apps, database), and they’re collectively on a buying binge and gobbling up dozens of the small fry every year.

20. Bill Gates - December 29, 2007

RESISTANCE IS FUTILE

21. Master Control Program - December 29, 2007

…gobbling up dozens of the small fry every year.

I can’t afford to have an independent program monitoring me. Do you have any idea how many outside systems I’ve gone into? How many programs I’ve appropriated?

22. Colossus, the Forbin Project - December 29, 2007

Just plug in that green cable to the blue connector.

It’ll be ok.

23. mesablue - December 29, 2007

Lawyers were, understandably, early adopters of word processing technology

Yeah, once they finally got computers. We gave away thousands of PC’s and terminals to law firms just so they could use our product. Law firms are about five years behind the technology curve on most things, Word Perfect 5.1 had to be pried out of their grubby little fingers. To be fair, the legal WP package was pretty good — it just plain worked for what lawyers need. But, I still run into lawyers that refuse to give it up. They are pissed that we won’t support integration for cite checking or document management from our web client to their DOS program. We had to finally drop support for our DOS product this year to get a few firms to switch to our web version — they completely skipped over the Windows product.

I was thinking about starting my own business specializing in the legal practice, but I don’t want to spend the next ten years of my life trying to collect on overdue invoices.

24. BrewFan - December 29, 2007

geoff, umm, I was talking about Netscape, not Word Perfect. But seeing as you changed the subject you might be interested to know that Microsoft *never* gave away Office. They didn’t ‘bundle’ it with the operating system like they did with the browser. The way they won the office productivity software battle was with significantly easier-to_use products (Word and Excel) then their competition along with more competitive pricing. Had either WordPerfect or Lotus made a more timely effort to adopt to Windows, MS Office might not be as dominant as it is today. Don’t you ever wonder why Open Office could never catch MS Office? Its free, after all. Ok, not really but they’d like you to believe it is.

25. daveintexas - December 29, 2007

blah blah blah.

I cannot believe how boring you men can be.

26. BrewFan - December 29, 2007

Want me to tell you about my new Wii?

27. mesablue - December 29, 2007

Get a Zapper, it’s fun.

28. mesablue - December 29, 2007

What surprises me is how many offices and companies still use Lotus Notes.

Lotus Notes is evil.

Whenever I walk into a Notes shop, I know the IT director is going to be a pompous asshole. They just seem to go together.

29. BrewFan - December 29, 2007

What is a Zapper (to lazy to google it right now)?

30. BrewFan - December 29, 2007

I got Call to Duty 3 for Christmas and that is a real trip to play on the Wii. Hand-to-hand wore me out!

31. mesablue - December 29, 2007

A Zapper is a lightgun accessory for the Wii. The remote fits into it. It’s only twenty bucks and comes with a small game.

It comes with Links Crossbow and will work with —
Resident evil The Umbrella Chronicals
Eledees / Elebits
Ghost Squad
Medal of Honor Heroes 2
Wii play (Shooting range, wheres Mii, Tanks, fishing)

I’ve got Ghost Squad which is really fun, if a bit short.

32. geoff - December 30, 2007

geoff, umm, I was talking about Netscape, not Word Perfect.

Sorry, read your comment too quickly, and assumed that it addressed #’s 5 – 7.

The way they won the office productivity software battle was with significantly easier-to_use products (Word and Excel) then their competition along with more competitive pricing.

As I said above, missteps on the part of WordPerfect (and Borland) were part of the problem, but there was still plenty of dirty pool on Microsoft’s side. For instance:

Microsoft also used its OEM licensing agreements to dump Office 95 on the market at a bundled price designed to starve out competitors.

I remember the early- to mid-90’s, when you couldn’t buy a PC without Office on it. With what seemed like a free office suite, people dropped all the competing applications (Lotus, Quattro, WordPerfect, Ami Pro, Harvard Graphics, etc.). Microsoft also had a deal whereby OEMs had to provide Office on every computer, or they had to pay 50% more per copy. At their margins, the choice was obvious.


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