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Why Netscape is the real "Microsoft" bogey

  [forwarded with permission.  subject line mine.  no endorsement implied.  
  	The following article appeared in a recent issue of CompuNotes. 
  CompuNotes is a free, weekly electronic publication which features 
  reviews, news and interviews from the internet and IBM compatible world. 
  We give away a free software CDROM to one of our lucky subscribers each 
  issue. To subscribe send a message to mailto:notes@compunotes.com with 
  the subject ADDME. Our web site is <http://www.compunotes.com/main.html>
  The Search for Intelligent Life on the Internet, Part II
  Is Netscape really the Anti-Microsoft?
  Commentary By Doug Reed, Associate Editor, mailto:dr2web@sprynet.com
  	I have to laugh.  People who hate Microsoft with a passion have in 
  recent times supported Netscape as "The Company Most Likely to Defeat 
  Microsoft".  This despite the fact that Netscape acts more like Microsoft 
  is accused of than Microsoft itself does.
  	Netscape at times seems to be coasting sheerly on its reputation, earned 
  back when it was practically the only browser manufacturer on the Web.  
  Coupled with that is the sheer arrogance that Netscape can ignore the 
  standards and recommendations proposed by the W3c, and that Netscape's 
  own proprietary standards will rule the day.  No where is this more 
  evident than Netscape's decision to use the <layer> tag and JavaScript 
  accessible style sheets in Navigator 4.0.  On the other hand, Microsoft's 
  web browser has continually improved and Microsoft has made numerous 
  commitments to following recommendations (or at least, proposed 
  recommendations) to follow the W3c.  Now, before you start your flame 
  mail, let me say that Microsoft has not been perfect, and they have also 
  done their dead-level best to introduce their own proprietary standards.  
  After all, how many browsers other than Internet Explorer natively use 
  VBScript and ActiveX? (the answer is none, although a plug-in does exist 
  for Navigator).  The point is this - Netscape is acting at least as 
  arrogantly as Microsoft, if not more so, and the result is simple: 
  Netscape is losing.
  	Study history long enough, and you begin to see where it repeats itself. 
   Nowhere is this clearer than Microsoft's battles with Apple, IBM, and 
  now Netscape.  All three have fallen flat on their faces facing off 
  against Bill & Co.; the ultimate humiliation for Apple was having to be 
  saved by none other than Bill & Co.  But the big loser in that deal was 
  neither Apple nor Microsoft; no, the loser was Netscape.  Why? Because 
  now all Apple computers will ship with Microsoft's Internet Explorer 
  pre-installed.   And we all know how this works - if it's already on 
  there, that is what people will use.  But why did Apple & IBM fail?  
  Sheer arrogance; by assuming that their product was superior, they seemed 
  to think that would be enough to carry the day.  While Microsoft was out 
  recruiting vendors to develop for Windows, Apple was shooing them away.  
  IBM is even worse; they developed a perfectly good operating system (OS/2 
  Warp), then abandoned it to it's fate.  They even failed to port a 
  version of OS/2 for the PowerPC, a chip they developed with Apple and 
  Motorola!  So it is hardly surprising that very few companies have 
  released native OS/2 software.
  	Netscape seems to be heading much the same way.  Version 4 of Navigator, 
  bundled together into a huge package called "Communicator" is by far the 
  buggiest version yet of Netscape's browser.  Two bug patches have already 
  been released to fix serious security flaws, and rumors are that yet 
  another security problem has been found and will need to be patched.  But 
  beyond the issue of security is the browser itself and its ability to get 
  around on the web.  Sure, the interface has been significantly improved.  
  Yes, it is easier to use than ever before.  But many new features seem to 
  have been tossed in haphazardly, like Netscape decided "Well, gee, maybe 
  it should also do this."  A prime example, and one that is the lament of 
  Webmasters such as myself, is Navigator's support of Cascading Style 
  Sheets.  Netscape finally caught up with Microsoft, which released CSS 
  support in IE 3.0, but the implementation is even less complete than 
  Microsoft's was in IE 3.0, which came out a year ago!  Further, numerous 
  bugs exist.  For example, I had several pages where the margins were 
  defined for the body of the page (the body tag controls the overall 
  layout of the page).  These pages work perfectly fine in IE 3.0 and 
  4.0b2; however, when I went to load the page in NN 4.0 - crash.  I tried 
  again and again, but got the same result.  At first I didn't know what 
  was going on, but when I loaded the page into NN 4.0 with the linked 
  style sheet missing - taa daa - the page loaded fine (although it didn't 
  look right).  So CSS support in NN 4.0 is only partial, and what's worse, 
  error- and crash-prone. Don't even get me started on JavaScript and 
  client-side scripting.
  	These aren't problems confined to webmasters.  If the webmaster doesn't 
  do a good job of insuring that a page will display well in all versions 
  of Navigator, IE, and Mosaic, he/she runs the risk of a page that won't 
  load at all.  While it seems to be less of a problem with Mosaic and IE 
  3.0, there have been far too many times when I've tried to go to sites 
  using Navigator and been unable to access the site because the browser 
  crashes on that page.  Yes, it is true that it is the fault of the 
  webmaster for creating such a bad design, but then why do Mosaic and IE 
  fail so gracefully and still display the page while Navigator simply 
  crashes?  Because Navigator doesn't fail as gracefully, Netscape's 
  customers are restricted in what they can see on the web.
  	As it stands right now, the future does not look particularly good for 
  Netscape.  From a stance of total dominance, Netscape has been 
  continuously losing market share to Microsoft since the release of IE 3.0 
  last year.  Further, Netscape has lost a number of prominent ISPs, 
  including most notably AT&T's Worldnet.  Based on downloads of the beta 
  versions of IE 4.0, Netscape may stand to lose considerably more people 
  try IE 4.0.
  	In my mind, the closest company to being a real anti-Microsoft is 
  Intuit.  Why?  Because year after year, Intuit's award-winning Quicken 
  continues to outsell Microsoft's Money.  Quicken's dominance of Money is 
  so complete that a few years ago Microsoft offered to buy Intuit rather 
  than continue to try to compete with Quicken, a move that was only 
  blocked when the Justice Dept. intervened.  If Netscape wants to continue 
  to dominate and outsell Microsoft, it needs to do it the same way: build 
  a better mousetrap.  I don't really care if my browser has dynamic HTML 
  or JavaScript accessible style sheets.  I just want to be able to find 
  the information I want on the web and get there quickly and easily with 
  as little fuss/crashing as possible.  When Netscape gets back to 
  designing a web browser that does that, then they might truly be able to 
  become the anti-Microsoft.
  forwarded by --
  Michael E. Etchison
  [opinions mine, not the PUCT's]