Netscape asked for it

A News.com reader writes that when it comes to the Microsoft antitrust trial, many have forgotten some crucial assertions made by Netscape in "the early days."

2 min read
Netscape asked for it

In response to the Jan. 22 article "Industry says ho-hum to Netscape suit":

This article was pretty evenhanded with the omission of one set of critical facts. Most observers, lawyers involved and parties involved have managed to forget some crucial assertions, claims, boasts--call it what you like--made by Netscape in "the early days." Probably some reason for the "ho-hum" is that there are people who do actually remember these.

If you go back and dig through the articles about Netscape at the beginning and on into its "heyday," you will find dozens, if not hundreds, of articles in major papers around the world about how Netscape was going to "destroy Microsoft" and "destroy Windows."

Netscape has, ever since it started to lose market share to Microsoft, conveniently forgotten its own vicious and monopolistic stance against Microsoft. Had Microsoft not fought back aggressively, the shoe might indeed be on the other foot.

I've heard Netscape people claim that that was all "marketing hype," but that isn't true, and they know it. Netscape was on a serious mission and it lost; it failed to consider what would happen when it attacked a giant. To say at the time that it was going to "destroy Windows" was brash but not very bright. It could have had a nice coexistence in the market, but by confronting Microsoft in such explicit terms, it managed to awake the giant and get kicked well and truly.

The fact that the anti-Microsoft taint has been so thorough throughout the antitrust cases has meant that most commentators have conveniently picked up the story just after Microsoft started to fight back; they all managed to ignore the critical preliminary history. If you do a follow-up article, perhaps you could help to keep the historical facts more accurate and more complete.

Russell Darroch
Canberra, Australia



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