Flipped Lecture: The Browser Wars

The invention of the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee brought upon other web browsers such as ViolaWWW, Line Mode Browser, Erwise and so forth. These browsers, however, were incredibly boring to look at and required the aid of external applications just so that its multimedia content could be accessed. Besides that, the Internet back then was a tool for academics, scientists and researchers and consisted of line after line of text. It lacked imagery and material. There was nothing worth finding and nothing to find it.

Then came along a computer science student from the University of Illinois named Marc Andreesen who had a plan to revolutionize the Internet and turn it into something people would use in their daily lives. So one day, he and a group of enthusiasts worked on making the Internet more accessible by adding graphics, audio and video capabilities. Together, they came up with the world’s first graphical web browser, otherwise known as Mosaic. The browser was launched in the fall of 1993 and was downloadable free of charge. Mosaic went viral. It had gone, and I quote,

from a toy for geeks and a tool for scientists, to a bona fide mass medium.

But for Mosaic to go worldwide, it needed funding and it needed lots of it. James H. Clark, founder of Silicon graphics came to their rescue. After hearing news about Mosaic and its success, James personally reached out to Marc and insisted they start a software company together. After a ton of agreements and paper signing, James and Marc then went on a recruiting spree and in the summer of 1994, James and Marc had launched Netscape, the fastest growing software company the world had ever seen.

After months of nonstop coding Netscape finally launched their new browser called Navigator. Navigator, like Mosaic, was a success. Netscape’s Navigator had revolutionized the Internet and this drove Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft at that time, up the wall. This was where Bill Gates finally recognized the importance of the web. He then set out to correct the mistake he had made, his mistake being him undermining Netscape.

In 1995, Navigator was a huge hit. It’s importance was compared to TV and print media. Netscape was at the peak of their success and Microsoft was ready to go to extreme lengths to bury them. Microsoft was ruthless and relentless. After hearing Marc Andreesen, co-founder of Netscape talk trash about Microsoft, Gates rounded up his best troops and prepared for war. He fought back with his very own, free of charge, web browser, Internet ExplorerGates had a plan and it was to analyze and imitate Netscape’s every move. On top of that, he had his team of qualified salesmen stop PC manufacturers from installing anything other than Internet Explorer on the windows platform. This caused Netscape to lose a big fraction of its revenue and eventually the company itself.

By September of 1997, the browser wars were over. Microsoft was once again back on top and given complete control of the software platform. However, that’s not the end of the story. The war might have been over for Netscape, but for Microsoft, it was merely the beginning. Microsoft had itself a new rival – the U.S. Department of Justice. In the year 1998, Microsoft was accused of using its windows monopoly to prevent consumers from accessing Netscape’s products.

It doesn’t help the consumers, it doesn’t help Netscape,  the only one who benefits from it is Microsoft – Anti-Trust Lawyer, Gary Reback

Bill Gates was found guilty soon after the court hearing begun and was forced to step down as CEO of Microsoft. Since then, many other web browsers  had emerged on the market. One of the many being the famous Mozilla Firefox. Firefox is a byproduct of Netscape. It was named after the original code name for Netscape’s browserAfter Microsoft’s historical win, they decided to divert their attention and focus on other things while Firefox has been gradually improving itself. Now, all the hard work over the years had paid off as Firefox is, and has been for a while, now viewed as technically superior to current versions of Internet Explorer. According to the data collected using NetApplications, Firefox beat Microsoft by getting almost twice as much usage in half the time.

As of March 26, Firefox 4 was seeing a 3.64 percent share of browser usage after only being available for 5 days. IE9, which launched just a week earlier had 1.78 percent after 12 days – NBC News

Conclusively, the browser wars is an ongoing and never-ending battle. Question is, which browser will revolutionize the Internet we know today? One thing we can be sure of is that, as of now, the reign of Microsoft is over.








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