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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The Browser Wars

The term 'browser wars' describes the competition between the different web browsers to maximize their own share of the world browser market. It is also commonly used to denote the competition between IE and other browsers at two different periods of time. The first war was fought between IE and Netscape in the late 1990s and the second (ongoing) is between IE and Firefox, which began in 2004. The first round of the browser wars was won by Microsoft. Industry experts pointed that this was mainly due to its near monopoly in the OS market.

The second round of the browser wars started with the increasing popularity of browsers like Firefox and Opera, which competed with Microsoft by providing advanced features and better security. The release of Firefox 1.0 in 2004 (Refer to Exhibit II for the versions of Firefox) posed a threat to Microsoft's IE as it spread through word-of-mouth buzz, was easily available to Internet users, was less vulnerable to viruses and spyware, and had the capability of running on any operating system. By mid-October 2005, Firefox had achieved its 100 millionth download and around 8.7 percent share of the browser market.

Asa Dotzler, the community coordinator for the Mozilla Foundation, said, "This is a great milestone. Our massive, worldwide community of grassroots marketers and users - not to mention the developers -have helped to put out a product that's really kicking butt."...

Security Concerns in IE6

In April 2006, Secunia reported that IE6 had twenty vulnerabilities when compared to Firefox, which had four vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities could severely compromise the security of systems or networks. One of these security flaws enabled fraudsters to pull off phishing scams. According to Secunia, the flaw was a result of the way web pages and macromedia flash animations were loaded by IE6 using CSS. CSS was used in designing the web layout and the availability of CSS source code on the web enabled hackers to access the hard drive, making it susceptible to browser bugs and malicious software.

Microsoft stated that it took steps to investigate the newly reported flaw. A representative of Microsoft said, "Our initial investigation has revealed that customers who have set their Internet security settings to high, or who have disabled active scripting, are at reduced risk from attack as the attack vector requires scripting."

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