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August 29, 2002—In this issue:
1. NEWS AND VIEWS
- New Netscape, Mozilla Browsers No Match for IE
- Microsoft Faces More Legal Challenges
- Mobile and Wireless Solutions—An Online Resource for a New Era
- Take Our Exchange Survey and Enter to Win a Microsoft Xbox!
3. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
1. NEWS AND VIEWS
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, [email protected])
Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) continues its dominance of the Web browser market, despite recent releases from open-source challenger Mozilla and its commercial sibling, Netscape. According to a twice-yearly study from market researcher StatMarket, IE now controls 96 percent of the market—up from 87 percent a year ago. Netscape, meanwhile, has fallen off the charts, with just 3.4 percent of the market—down from 7 percent in March and 13 percent a year ago. And competent newcomer Mozilla, whose critical 1.0 release came after years in beta, has managed to attract less than 1 percent of the market. (The more recent Mozilla 1.1 release improves performance and adds a few new features.)
"The newest versions of Netscape have failed to win over users so far," said StatMarket Vice President Geoff Johnston. "Unless \[Netscape parent company\] AOL makes a move soon, Netscape may find itself battling Opera for the last 1 percent to 2 percent of the market."
AOL, which attracts 30 million subscribers, could significantly reverse Netscape's fortunes by bundling that browser, instead of IE, with its service. Today, AOL announced the release of Netscape 7.0, which features Mozilla-like features such as a tabbed UI and integrated email, news, and chat applications. But whether any product can undo IE's market dominance is unclear at this point, according to StatMarket. "The browser war is in fact a massacre," Johnston said.
Microsoft will head to court soon, but not for the federal antitrust case that's awaiting a decision from Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly. The company is facing other legal challenges—from Sun Microsystems and what's left of Be (which once made a rival OS). And a US district court might combine a slew of antitrust lawsuits into one class-action suit.
The first case involves a Sun request for federal court injunctions against Microsoft that would require Microsoft to bundle Sun's Java technology with Windows. A federal judge has set a December 3 hearing date to determine whether to force Microsoft to include Java with Windows, although Microsoft must respond to Sun's complaint by October 4. Sun is also charging that Microsoft engaged in antitrust violations by harming the Java platform, forcing other companies to distribute products that were incompatible with Java, and creating an incompatible Java version. Of course, Microsoft says that Sun's claims are spurious. "We feel that our activities have always been in the best interests of consumers and that Sun, instead of competing in the marketplace, is relying on litigation," a Microsoft spokesperson said.
In the Be case, the remainder of the company (a lawyer and one company representative—Palm bought most of Be's assets last year), has sued Microsoft as a result of the software giant's antitrust conviction and seeks damages for Microsoft's predatory behavior. To expedite litigation, the discovery phase of Be's case could be combined with Sun's case, although Be says it wants the case tried in California.
And in early October, a federal court in Baltimore, Maryland, will determine whether to combine more than 100 antitrust suits against Microsoft into one class-action suit. Judge Frederick Motz of the US District Court for the District of Maryland has set an October 1 deadline for class-action certification. In addition, the judge has set an October 24 hearing date to determine whether Microsoft will be bound by the findings already issued in the company's federal antitrust case.
These court cases prove that Microsoft's antitrust problems won't end with Judge Kollar-Kotelly's ruling. But if the past is any indication, we can expect the company to emerge relatively unscathed. As time marches on, whatever damages Microsoft might have caused in the past seem more and more remote, thanks largely to the fast-moving nature of the PC industry.
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