Browser Wars II: The Release of IE 7 (BETA 2)

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Case Details:

Case Code : MKTG138
Case Length : 17 Pages
Period : 2004-2006
Organization : Microsoft Corporation
Pub Date : 2006
Teaching Note : Available
Countries : Global
Industry : Computers, IT & ITeS

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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History of Web Browsers

In 1990, Tim Berners Lee developed the first web browser called, WorldWideWeb at CERN13 (Centre Européan de Recherche Nucléaire).

The browser had a built-in editor that created hypertext documents and had the ability to support documents only with text, without any graphics.

In November 1993, Marc Andreessen, developed a web browser called Mosaic1 at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications14 (NCSA), which became the first browser to support the graphical user interface15 (GUI).

NCSA released the first pre-beta version of Mosaic in February 1993 and 1.0 version in September 1993. The browser provided support to Windows and Macintosh operating systems. In 1994, Marc Andreessen resigned from NCSA and formed Netscape Communication Corporation16 in collaboration with Jim Clark.17

The period from 1994 to 1997 marked the dominance of Netscape as several versions of browsers were released. The first web browser developed by Netscape was called as Netscape Navigator (Netscape).

In December 1994, Netscape1 browser, which supported advanced HTML18 tags and multiple TCP/IP19 connections, was released. In March 1996, Netscape1 was succeeded by Netscape2, supporting JavaScript20 followed by Netscape3 in August 1996, which supported mouseover21 features.

In August 1995, Microsoft released its first Internet explorer version IE1 followed by IE2 in December 1995. These browsers did not match the capability of Netscape3 standards. IE3 was the first browser that supported cascading style sheets22 (CSS). This helped Microsoft increase its market share but Netscape's technical superiority ensured continued dominance for Netscape.

However, the market share of Microsoft's browser grew rapidly, primarily due to the incorporation of the browser in its Windows operating system (OS).

Microsoft had a near monopoly in the OS market and the incorporation enabled it to command 96 percent of the total market by June 2004. Also, Microsoft viewed its competency in developing OS as the key factor that attracted customers to its web browsers.

In December 1997, Opera, a web browser, was developed by a telecommunications company Telenor in Oslo, Norway. The company developed this browser to counter the increasing threat of phishing attacks.

Opera provided better CSS support than Netscape and IE. It operated on the open-source model, which made it capable of running on any operating system. In addition to features like tabbed browsing23 and pop-up blocking24, Opera provided better security protection by supporting a Secure Socket Layer25 (SSL) version and 128-bit encryption, which was the highest security available to a browser...

Excerpts >>

13] CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is located in Geneva, Switzerland.

14] National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) is a department in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). It has been a leader in the development and deployment of new computing applications and software technologies for the scientific and engineering community.

15] Graphical user interface is a graphics user based interface that issues commands to a computer. It has the ability to resize application windows and activates graphical images on a monitor.

16] Established in 1994, Netscape Communications Corporation was the publisher of Netscape browsers, internet and intranet client and server products.

17] Jim Clark was the founder of Silicon Graphics, Inc. The company was established in 1982 and was a maker of graphics display terminal.

18] Hyper Text Markup Language is a markup language that is used extensively on the WorldwideWeb (www). It is used to structure text and multimedia documents and sets hyperlinks between documents.

19] Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol is a communications protocol developed under a contract from the U.S Department of defense. It is used as a standard to transmit data over a network.

20] JavaScript is a scripting language that enables scripting access to objects embedded in other applications.

21] Mouseover features are dynamically provided by Dynamic Hypertext Markup Language (DHTML). When the user places the mouse over a hyperlink, sub links to the hyperlinks appear on the web page.

22] Cascading style sheets (CSS) design the web layout. It allows users to attach fonts, spacing to structured documents such as HTML and XML.

23] This feature allows users to open more than one site in one browser window.

24] Pop-up blocking refers to any software or application that disables any pop-up, pop-over or pop-under advertisement window that the user would see while using a Web browser. (Source:

25] Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is used to transmit private documents over the Internet. It uses a cryptographic system that is provided with two keys to encrypt and decrypt the data. This ensures that the message transferred would be securely received by the recipient.


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