It seems that browser wars have been around forever. During the early 1990’s, the browser of choice was Netscape’s Navigator. Netscape’s massive successful IPO in 1995 got the attention of Microsoft. Microsoft began delivering their Internet Explorer bundled with their operating systems. The browser wars were underway. Some readers may recall the 1995 battle between Netscape and Microsoft Internet Explorer. There was a back and forth war of adding new features by both companies. Microsoft with its successful OS and huge cash reserves was no match for Netscape. Microsoft practice of delivering their Internet Explorer bundled with their operating systems for no additional cost caused the downfall of Netscape.
Netscape was subsequently sold to AOL in 1998 and the Netscape browser saw a quick demise. Microsoft was called into court in 1998 on anti-trust charges for their practice of embedding their IE browsers into their operating systems and making it hard for consumers to install competing browsers on their Windows OS computers. Microsoft lost the case and was instructed to separate their OS business from their software business. However, before this could be fully implemented, the appeals process removed much of the enforcement. In 2002, 96% of Windows users were using Internet Explorer.
Since that time, there have been several browsers start up. Its is interesting to note that one of them, Firefox, came from the soul of Netscape. Microsoft’s once monopolistic control began eroding as a result of good-old competition. The browser war continues today.
Below is a chart showing the average percentage of browsers that have been used during the past 6+ years for folks visiting the www.pcmatic.com web site.
The data shows that the combined usage of Internet Explorer and its new replacement , Microsoft Edge totals approximately 38% in 2016. Chrome has been ramping up and currently comes in a close second at approximately 36%.
Regardless of what your favorite browser might be, the Netscape – Microsoft war during the mid-1990’s likely played a role in the fact that all of the mainstream browsers today are freely distributed.