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Microsoft should learn from its battle with Netscape

Microsoft may rue the day it chose to hammer a company which, at the time, mirrored its own early days

Microsoft may rue the day it chose to hammer a company which, at the time, mirrored its own early days

Netscape, the company that by the mid-1990s ruled the Internet browser market, was like a red rag to a bull as far as Microsoft was concerned. After taking the scalp of IBM in the operating system market, Microsoft found it too tempting to resist targeting small-fry Netscape.

With the launch of Windows 95 came the bundled Internet Explorer browser, which gave Microsoft the lion's share of the browser market.

Netscape complained to the Government about Microsoft allegedly forcing PC manufacturers to install the browser, and Netscape won.

Although Microsoft eventually won an appeal, Netscape had set off a chain of events. Sun Microsystems took Microsoft to court over Java solutions designed for Microsoft products. Meanwhile IBM alleged that Microsoft tried to stop it using Windows 95 for its PCs, unless it stopped offering the OS/2 operating system. It said Microsoft's margins on Windows 98 were too high.

As Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said after the final judgment this week, "Our intense focus on moving forward has at times been threatening and our passion for this has been misinterpreted."

This was first published in April 2000

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