Microsoft IE vs. Netscape Navigator

Internet Explorer now owns about 80% of the browser market, something Netscape Navigator was closing in on itself at one time.

Late on the night of Sept. 30, 1997, a group of Microsoft employees strategically placed a large metal likeness of the Internet Explorer logo on the front lawn at Netscape Communications in Mountain View, Calif. – a signal that the browser war was fully ignited.

Late on the night of Sept. 30, 1997, a group of Microsoft employees strategically placed a large metal likeness of the Internet Explorer logo on the front lawn at Netscape Communications in Mountain View, Calif. – a signal that the browser war was fully ignited.

Earlier that evening in San Francisco as Microsoft celebrated IE 4.0’s release, Netscape’s Navigator was enjoying a 72% share of the browser market. Chris Holten, Netscape’s spokeswoman at the time, likened the logo stunt to a fraternity prank. “It’s something you'd expect from a start-up, not the largest software company in the world.” But just five years later, Netscape’s share was 4%, having been drained faster than a beer keg at a Delta Tau Chi party, and what little was left of Navigator included an open-source skunkworks project called Phoenix.

Fast-forward to 2005, and the second round of the browser wars was burning hot. Phoenix had morphed into Firefox and captured 2% market share and IE (89%) was fighting developmental lethargy and security bugs. Those bugs were the bait Firefox used to troll for users, and the upstart browser began to win converts just as Web-based applications started to take off.

Today, Microsoft is working on Version 8 of IE, which has nearly 78% of the market, a number down from an all-time high of 95%. Firefox in September 2007 hit its highest mark ever at 14.88%, according to data from Market Share.

< Return to the list of arguments >

Learn more about this topic

 
Insider Tip: 12 easy ways to tune your Wi-Fi network
Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies