There is a war being fought on the internet right now, but most of us don’t even notice. The war isn’t about the internet itself, but how we access it.
Welcome to Browser Wars!
This week we’ll take a quick look at how the browser landscape came to be the vicious online battlefield that it is today.
By 1995 the World Wide Web was being to be noticed, and began to become part of popular culture. Many of us may remember the first browser we used back then was AOL, a few readers might even remember Prodigy.
Seeing the success of the Netscape browser used by these two ancient internet companies, Windows released Internet Explorer 1.0 as part of the Windows 95 Plus pack in August 1995. Both companies began releasing updates in rapid succession over the next couple of years. It seemed that every time we turned around either Netscape or Internet Explorer was releasing a new version and wanting us to update. They were competing for the most users; the title of the best browser. Of course, all this was at the expense of being fairly buggy, but they kept showing us more and more “amazing” features.
It wasn’t just users these companies were fighting for, it was money. A popular web browser could make a lot of money from the bids by search engines to be the default search engine, not to mention popular webpages wanting to be pre-installed in the browsers bookmarks.
A seemed a minor battle until Microsoft “wowed” us with the speedy and stable update to IE 4.0 in 1997. Using the “monopoly” they had with the Windows operating system, they began packaging Internet Explorer with every release of Windows.
Over the next few years Microsoft slowly cut off Netscape’s “air supply” with its numerous resources. It even created a licensing agreement with AOL to base AOL’s primary interface on IE rather than Netscape. IE began adding features much like those of Netscape and few superior. The want to download and install Netscape.
Thinking it had finally won the monopoly over the internet, it began to relax with Yahoo as it’s default search engine, and many news websites pre-installed as book marks. It turned its ventures to other things.
Little did it know it was being stalked by a big red “O” and a cute little “fox”.
More on that battle next week.