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Would Netscape have been monopolist?

    In response to the March 14 Perspectives column by Charles Cooper, "What if Netscape had won?":

    I thought your article was interesting, but what I have always wondered is why people think Netscape would have been any more benevolent than Microsoft had it won the browser war and replaced MS Windows on the desktop.

    I remember that before losing the browser war and releasing its code base to the world, Netscape charged for the browser (although I think most personal users just kept downloading the free betas) and had a 90-plus percent market share. If Netscape had defeated Microsoft, would it have released its code to become Mozilla? Probably not.

    Would Netscape have allowed its browser to be distributed free of charge? Would I be paying $90 every two years to buy the next version that I would have to update to run the newest incarnation of Netscape Office 2003? It is quite possible we would just be replacing one monopoly with another, albeit one that might have supported more hardware (if it was profitable for them to produce a full-blown product for every operating system).

    Steve Pardue
    Birmingham, Ala.