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Mozilla and the Open Source Browser Bonanza

ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - Even if you don't remember the birth of Mozilla 15 years ago, you are certainly benefitting from its consequences. For, back then, the company that invented the Web as a mass medium, Netscape, was in its death throes, and looked likely to take Web browser choice with it.

Netscape had begun life as an innovative startup that changed not only how people used the Web, but also how people sold software - essentially giving away its Netscape Navigator browser for free, and making money be selling associated products. Then it fell victim to Microsoft's belated recognition that the Internet was the future, and not just something for academics, as a senior Microsoft had assured me shortly before (he, of course, wanted people to use Microsoft's proprietary network, MSN.) That was partly because Microsoft played its usual games, building on its strength on the desktop, and its established relationships with third-party vendors of software and services.

In the famous 1998 antitrust action, this dominance on the desktop was found to be monopolistic, and Microsoft's actions to defend that monopoly, including bundling its Internet Explorer browser with Windows, were considered an abuse of that monopoly. A change of President in the US meant that Microsoft got off with little more than a slap on the wrist, but by then Netscape was no longer any kind of threat.