How Internet Explorer Really Got Netscape

In 1994, I had already covered the Internet for years, with the deep conviction that the Web would change the world. Microsoft has not yet come to terms with this idea. In the first edition of his book, way forward, Bill Gates hardly mentions the Internet. In the next edition, the founder of the American giant developed on this issue, devoting a chapter to it before realizing, in May 1995, that the Internet would be a technological tidal wave.

Then Microsoft began to rewrite history to pass itself as a leader on the Internet. Recently, CEO Hadi Bartovi resurrected this tired novel, in a series of tweets in which he argued that Internet Explorer “was the first real hit in the ‘browser war’.” I was already covering the web world at the time, and I don’t I agree.

As Microsoft’s top management put the Internet on hold, others realized that the company needed to offer something to the many users who wanted a web browser. Their quick fix was to adopt a commercial version, Spyglass, of the first successful web browser, Mosaic. Thus was born Internet Explorer (IE) 1, which was launched on August 16, 1995 as part of Microsoft Plus for Windows 95, a group of complementary software for the Windows operating system.

Netscape, a formidable competitor … is feared

IE 1 was not very successful. It also left a bad taste in Spyglass’s mouth. The latter was to receive a percentage of Microsoft’s profits on IE. In fact, Microsoft started shipping IE with Windows starting with the next version of Windows 95 for electronics manufacturers. Microsoft eventually struck a deal with Spyglass for $8 million in 1997. The Spyglass/Mosaic code base remained a part of IE until the release of IE 7. The “About” window from IE 1 to IE 6 already contained the phrase “Distributed under license from Spyglass Corporation.” “.

Meanwhile, Mosaic co-founder Marc Andreessen took Mosaic code and turned it into Netscape, the first successful web browser. The businessman boasted that Netscape would “reduce Windows to a poorly patched set of device drivers.” Microsoft’s response was quick. After a meeting with the American giant, the latter said: “In my 33-year career, I have never attended a meeting in which a competitor frankly hinted that we must either stop competing with him, or die.”

However, the latter admits that there are “signed partnerships with all those who helped us, even competitors like Apple and AOL”. However, Apple at that time was in the red at the financial level, even allowing other companies to build copies of the Mac, for example DayStar Digital. AOL, on the other hand, was trying to transition from an online modem-based service to a destination website and Internet service provider (ISP). These two companies were not competitors to Microsoft, although they had the ability to distribute Internet Explorer to more customers.

Microsoft depends on its monopoly

Hadi Partovi recalls that the team behind Internet Explorer was “the toughest team I’ve ever been a part of.” She has worked in several start-up companies. It was a sprint, not a marathon. We ate all of our meals in the office. We often had foosball tournaments at 2am just to give the team the energy they needed to keep going. Sadly, there have been divorces, broken families, and bad things that have resulted from it. But I also learned that even in a company of 20,000 people, you can make a team of 100 people work as if their lives depended on it.”

However, the rise of IE and the fall of Netscape had little to do with all the programming death marches and everything to do with Microsoft’s monopoly on office automation. This is recognized today by Hadi Partovi, who admits that the company has “begin in an unsustainable ‘crisis’ situation.”

In his early tweets, he credits IE 3 with Microsoft’s winning startup in the web browser market. “When IE 3 was released 25 years ago, it didn’t win the browser wars, but it seriously affected the competition, causing Netscape to start worrying. Two years later, we introduced IE 5, which became the dominant web browser at the time.”

Insurmountable offensive power for Netscape

why ? Technical history says that the reason for this was Microsoft’s monopoly on the Windows operating system, which certainly played a role. But this would not have been possible if Microsoft had not also learned to operate in the age of the Internet,” he explains. A statement that I would like to qualify for. In my opinion, although Microsoft teams worked hard on IE programming, the real innovation happened with Netscape Communicator. Like it or hate it, JavaScript is arguably the most popular language in the world, and JavaScript was invented by Netscape.

The real reason Netscape collapsed was Microsoft’s ability to force PC vendors to put the new operating system and browser on all of their computers. The goal was not so much to kill PC operating system vendors as to destroy Netscape. All this despite the contradictory decisions of the US courts, according to which Microsoft’s monopoly on the PC market was detrimental to competition … and in particular Netscape.

Race outcome: Netscape staggered, eventually died. Years later, his browser icon will still be active in the Firefox browser. For more than a decade, Microsoft has continued to dominate both the desktop and the browser. It wasn’t until Google, a tech force in its own right, launched Chrome in 2008 that IE faced a business challenge it couldn’t overcome. Technically, from start to finish, IE has never been the best browser. He won because he allowed the illegal monopoly to continue.


Leave a Comment