Linux News says Netscape's Browser Regaining Market Share

Posted by tadelste on Dec 10, 2005 6:51 AM
Lxer Day Desk; By Tom Adelstein, Editor-in-Chief

LXer Day Desk: 12-09-2005

So, everyone one forgot that Mozilla got its code from Netscape. A Press Release back in January 1998 said, "The company plans to post the source code beginning with the first Netscape Communicator 5.0 developer release, expected by the end of the first quarter of 1998. This aggressive move will enable Netscape to harness the creative power of thousands of programmers on the Internet by incorporating their best enhancements into future versions of Netscape's software".

So, maybe those folks who say the code endures while companies come and go - have a point. Whatever, Netscape's browser is back.

That press release went on to say:

"The time is right for us to take the bold action of making our client free - and we are going even further by committing to post the source code for free for Communicator 5.0," said Jim Barksdale, Netscape's president and chief executive officer. "By giving away the source code for future versions, we can ignite the creative energies of the entire Net community and fuel unprecedented levels of innovation in the browser market. Our customers can benefit from world-class technology advancements; the development community gains access to a whole new market opportunity; and Netscape's core businesses benefit from the proliferation of the market-leading client software."

In practical terms, Netscape was on its way to corporate oblivion. One has to wonder if Netscape would be a dominant company today if it had adopted an open source business model like JBoss. They could have open sourced everything and sold support and services. That's also a similar model to the one used by Red Hat.

If you look around at the Netscape enterprise software stack, ultimately all their software is or will be open source. Look at the Java Enterprise System which Sun has announced they plan to open source. Much of that product suite came from Netscape. Red Hat's Fedora Directory server comprises one of the last Netscape products. That should open some eyes.

Revenge is a dish best served cold

Four years passed between the 1998 Netscape announcement and the delivery of Mozilla 1.0. The process took longer than expected for many reasons. The Netscape/AOL merger and the decision to create an entirely new HTML rendering engine- NGLayout (Gecko)- held up the process. None of the players involved knew much about open source development practices so that created a learning curve.

In mid-1994, Silicon Graphics founder Jim Clark and Marc Andreessen founded Mosaic Communications. By the end of the year, many of the original developers from the NCSA Mosaic project worked for Clark and Andreessen. They release their first browser to the public in late 1994.

By the summer of 1995, if you browsed the Internet, then an 80 percent chance existed you used a Netscape browser. When approached by Microsoft to purchase them, Netscape refused and Microsoft went on the war path. Three years passed and by the time Microsoft released Internet Explorer 4.0, the predatory Redmond monopoly had all but turned Netscape into a memory.

Microsoft won the browser war and like a good monopolist, they stopped developing their browser with no competition in site. Without a competitor why work? They just started munching down on their customers.

The players differ this time. Firefox may be the cavalry, but Linux has the foot soldiers and Microsoft is outnumbered. Even Redmond's money and political power can't stop an idea who's time has come. Most countries outside the US want "out" where it comes to Microsoft.

When will this end?

Eventually, George Bush will leave office and so will his administration. He's disappointed the Republican party and damaged those tight fisted Senators and Congressmen that helped create the great economy of the 1990's. So, new people will show up in the political arena and we'll see a changing of the guard.

Without a monopoly, Microsoft doesn't even rank as an average software company. So, expect to see their reign begin to end over the next three years. Meanwhile, Firefox has started settling some old scores. Microsoft doesn't have the element of surprise with them this time around.

The open source community has entrenched itself. Real competition exists for Microsoft this cycle. Microsoft is not fighting a little OS/2 group of desktop developers over at IBM, they must contend with many companies, a huge development community and a public learning about alternatives.

Mozilla has done a wonderful job of making a comeback. The days of seeing web pages like the one I encountered yesterday, will soon be gone. When I called to protest, the technical support person told me how to change the preferences in my Firefox browser. He also invited me to speak at his LUG meeting.

I'm already seeing changes. The browser makes a difference. Thank you, Jim Barksdale for the decision you made to open source your browser. The dream still lives and payback's a lady!

Perhaps the days of this will come to an end soon.

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Subject Topic Starter Replies Views Last Post
Political Diatribe pablo7 7 1,471 Dec 12, 2005 6:18 AM
Has the code survived? dinotrac 2 1,664 Dec 10, 2005 10:48 AM

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