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MS vs. Netscape: The missing story


This story clearly is one of how the pundits missed the boat.

At the beginning of the year, the talk was how Microsoft had missed the Internet wave and how it would become just another has-been. But these prognosticators quickly amended their thinking as Microsoft proved adept at mending its way. Far from being left out of the Internet party, it became the center of attention.

With Microsoft making headway in the Internet space by deploying a can't lose strategy, i.e. give away the products for free, it was Netscape that was suddenly deemed to be the underdog instead of the giant killer. What's more, according to some if Microsoft would not roll over, than that meant Netscape had to. The oft asked question was: "Is Netscape dead meat?"

Neither has turned out to be the case, at least not this year. What really happened was simply that the users won out, thanks to the heightened pace of innovation. And Netscape, realizing that it would be foolhardy to play and win the browser give-away game with Microsoft, made the decision to deemphasize the browser.

Netscape is now focused on corporate intranets and tackling the groupware market dominated by Lotus Development's Notes software in one fell swoop with a next-generation product called Communicator. The consumer market of video game systems, pagers, and set-top boxes it left in August to its Navio spin-off.