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Quality Assurance in Mindfire for 2 years. Author - Soumendra Barik

The Browser Wars 1993-2004 – Part 2

 

The Trial Part 2

Microsoft was asked to offer a version of Windows without IE. Microsoft replied that the company would offer the consumers either “one version of Windows that was obsolete, or another that did not work properly”. The judge stated “It seemed absolutely clear to you that I entered an order that required that you distribute a product that would not work?” David D. Cole, another Microsoft Vice-President, replied, “In plain English, yes. We followed that order. It wasn’t my place to consider the consequences of that”. Both the prosecution and the defense called upon the professors of MIT to serve as witnesses for their cases. Microsoft defended itself in the public “Consumers did not ask for these antitrust actions … rival business firms did. Consumers of high technology have enjoyed falling prices, expanding outputs, and a breathtaking array of new products and innovations. … Increasingly, however, some firms have sought to handicap their rivals by turning to government for protection. Many of these cases are based on speculation about some vaguely specified consumer harm in some unspecified future, and many of the proposed interventions will weaken successful U.S. firms and impede their competitiveness abroad.”

Judge Jackson issued his conclusions that Microsoft had committed monopolization and that Microsoft had taken actions to crush threats to that monopoly, and his opinion was that Microsoft must be broken into two separate units, one to produce the operating system, and one to produce other software components.

Ironically the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals anulled Judge Jackson’s rulings against Microsoft because in their view the Appellate court had adopted a “drastically altered scope of liability” so his suggestions were not viable, and also because of his interviews to the news media while he was still hearing the case, in violation of the Code of Conduct for US Judges. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals accused him of unethical conduct and opined that he should recuse himself from the case.

Judge Jackson’s response was that Microsoft’s conduct itself was the cause of any “perceived bias”; Microsoft executives had “proved, time and time again, to be inaccurate, misleading, evasive, and transparently false. … Microsoft is a company with an institutional disdain for both the truth and for rules of law that lesser entities must respect. It is also a company whose senior management is not averse to offering specious testimony to support spurious defenses to claims of its wrongdoing.”

The Settlement

On November 2, 2001, the Department of Justice reached a settlement with Microsoft. Microsoft will have to share its application programming interfaces with third-party companies and appoint a panel of three people who will have full access to Microsoft’s systems, records, and source code for five years in order to ensure compliance. This was to ensure Microsoft did not engage in “Predatory Behavior” directly or indirectly forming a “Barrier to Entry”. However, the Department of Justice allowed Microsoft to retain its code and integrate other softwares with Windows in the future. Nine states i.e. California, Kansas, Minnesota, Connecticut,Utah, Iowa, Florida,Minnesota, Virginia and Massachusetts and the District of Columbia did not agree with the settlement.

Andrew Chin, an antitrust law professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who assisted Judge Jackson in drafting the findings of fact, wrote that the settlement gave Microsoft “a special antitrust immunity to license Windows and other ‘platform software’ under contractual terms that destroy freedom of competition. Microsoft now enjoys illegitimately acquired monopoly power in the market for Web browser software products.”

Microsoft’s responsibilities according to the settlement expired on November 12, 2007. Microsoft consented to extend selected terms of the settlement till 2012, but the plaintiffs made it clear that the extension was intended to serve only to give the relevant part of the settlement “the opportunity to succeed for the period of time it was intended to cover”, rather than being due to any “pattern of willful and systematic violations”.

 

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Netscape Vs Internet Explorer

The Browser Wars 1993-2004 – Part 1

Netscape Vs Internet ExplorerThe First Browsers

Browsers began to be taken seriously around 1993 . The first were the Unix browsers such as Line Mode Browser, ViolaWWW, Erwise and MidasWWW, and MacWWW/Samba for the Mac. In a short span there were more like Cello,Arena,Lynx,tkWWW and Mosaic. The most popular was Mosaic. It was designed by National Center for Supercomputing Applications(NCSA) to run on multiplatforms.

Marc Andreessen, a founding developer of Mosaic, started his own Mosaic Communications Corporation and his first product was Mosaic Netscape. The company was renamed Netscape Communications Corporation and the browser Netscape Navigator. The Netscape browser was much better interfaced and reliable than other browsers of that time but the best thing was it was free.

Corporates soon recognized this as a new market and many more IT companies jumped in like Browse, IBM’s Navipress, SlipKnot, Web Explorer, UdiWWW, Omni Web, Web Rouser, Mac Web . And then one day Bill Gates took notice of Netscape and soon Microsoft introduced it’s own Internet Explorer 1.0.

 The Browser Wars

By 1995 Netscape Navigator in only about a year was more than 80 % of the web browser market. Microsoft released Internet Explorer 1.0 with licenses from NCSA’s Mosaic on its Windows 95 Plus! Pack in August. Some time later Netscape was free only for educational institutes and non profit organizations while Internet Explorer 2.0 was released as a free download. Everybody realized how competitive the new market had become and started to provide free installation with new updates appearing regularly at a rapid pace

On October 1997, when Internet Explorer 4.0 was to be released, Microsoft had a 10 feet “e” logo put on the lawns of Netscape office with a sign “From the IE team … We Love You”. Netscape responded by knocking it down and setting their Mozilla dinosaur mascot on top of it , with a sign reading “Netscape 72, Microsoft 18” representing the market distribution.

Internet Explorer 4 was a turning point. It was introduced as a part of Windows to exploit the already dominant personal computer market of Microsoft. IE 4 was free and already there with Windows and thus no need for users to get another browser.

The U.S. Government soon took notice of this and was concerned because Microsoft had already had some trouble over monopoly rules in the past. Microsoft defense was that Internet Explorer was not a separate product but an upgrading feature for Windows, although the IE was part of the Plus! Pack which was sold separately from Windows 95. Microsoft in its reports said that the government, under influence from its competitors, was trying to constrain the Windows business.

The Trial – Part 1

 

On May 18, 1998 the U.S. Justice Department and the Attorneys General of twenty U.S. states sued Microsoft for illegally obstructing competition in order to protect and extend its software monopoly and for violating a 1994 consent decree by forcing computer makers to include its Internet browser as a part of the installation of Windows software.

Bill Gates himself was brought to trial. But his attitude was reported to be “evasive and non-responsive” and saying ‘I don’t recall’ so many times that the judges got irritated. Intel Vice-President Steven McGeady, called as a witness, quoted Paul Maritz the senior Microsoft Vice-President as to “extinguish” and “smother” rival Netscape Communications Corporation and to “cut off Netscape’s air supply” by providing Netscape Navigator’s clone for free.

To prove that IE 4 was an upgrading feature of Windows, Microsoft provided videotapes that demonstrated that removing IE 4 from Windows caused slowdowns and malfunctions. Interestingly Microsoft Vice-President James Allchin had stated the video to be a seamless segment filmed on one PC, but the prosecutors found some icons mysteriously disappear and reappear on the PC’s desktop, and thus claimed it to be a fake. Allchin confessed and blamed his staff, “They ended up filming it – grabbing the wrong screen shot,” he said. Microsoft had to drop the the claim that removing IE slowed Windows and got irritated by the lawyers’ “nitpicking on issues like video production”. Microsoft submitted a second videotape to demonstrate how easy it was for America Online users to download and install Netscape Navigator onto a Windows PC. Microsoft’s video showed the process as being quick and easy with the Netscape icon appearing on the user’s desktop. The government produced its own videotape of the same process, revealing that Microsoft’s videotape had conveniently removed a long and complex part of the procedure and that the Netscape icon was not placed on the desktop, requiring a user to search for it. Brad Chase, a Microsoft Vice-President, verified the government’s tape and conceded that Microsoft’s own tape was falsified.

Continued in the next part

Author- Soumendra Barik

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The Browser Wars 1993-2004 – Part 1

The First Browsers
Browsers began to be taken seriously around 1993 . The first were the Unix browsers such as Line Mode Browser, ViolaWWW, Erwise and MidasWWW, and MacWWW/Samba for the Mac. In a short span there were more like Cello,Arena,Lynx,tkWWW and Mosaic. The most popular was Mosaic. It was designed by National Center for Supercomputing Applications(NCSA) to run on multiplatforms.
Marc Andreessen, a founding developer of Mosaic, started his own Mosaic Communications Corporation and his first product was Mosaic Netscape. The company was renamed Netscape Communications Corporation and the browser Netscape Navigator. The Netscape browser was much better interfaced and reliable than other browsers of that time but the best thing was it was free.
Corporates soon recognized this as a new market and many more IT companies jumped in like Browse, IBM’s Navipress, SlipKnot, Web Explorer, UdiWWW, Omni Web, Web Rouser, Mac Web . And then one day Bill Gates took notice of Netscape and soon Microsoft introduced it’s own Internet Explorer 1.0. Continue reading The Browser Wars 1993-2004 – Part 1
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