Friday, December 28, 2007

Browsers Wars Wage On – 1 Dead (Netscape), Opera Fights On

Huge news regarding web browsers

Netscape is officially dead as of today. (See Netscape’s blog or CNET for details)

Netscape was practically dead once AOL purchased it, and then buried when AOL decided to use Internet Explorer as its default browser. Now the tombstone can be engraved.

The browser wars have waged for years. A couple years ago it seemed like Microsoft’s Internet Explorer had won. But spunky Netscape went open source, becoming Mozilla and thus Netscape’s scion Firefox was born to continue the familial battle.

Netscape continued on, but the battle was essentially fought by Firefox, who made some significant ground in the last couple years.

Yes there Apple’s Safari, but it hasn’t been a serious player – rather more a Switzerland figure in holding their own cloistered territory but not penetrating beyond their rather neutral ground.

As a web developer, I loved the simplicity of programming for one browser. Sure made testing a lot easier and you knew what you were going to get. So I didn’t mind the IE monopoly, until years went by without any improvements in the IE browser.

During the years between Netscape’s demise and Firefox’s glorious rise, Opera kept up the good fight. Their browser introduced improvements and proved that we all didn’t have to settle for a static IE.

Opera continues to fight valiantly

This month Norway-based Opera filed an antitrust compliant with the European Union. As Opera states their grounds for this complaint:
The complaint describes how Microsoft is abusing its dominant position by tying its browser, Internet Explorer, to the Windows operating system and by hindering interoperability by not following accepted Web standards.

While I can see a case for bundling IE with Windows, I’m not sure how not following web standards is antitrust?

I’m all for web standards. In fact, during my efforts earlier in the year to make my company’s website accessibility, I decided to drop some good techniques because IE doesn’t support them. Almost all our visitors use IE, so there was little point.

It is instances like this that give cause to the fight. I look forward to seeing the outcome of Opera’s recent attack.

I mourn the loss of Netscape, but thanks to Opera and Firefox the war is not lost!

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